Insights from the Women in Technology World Series.

Megan Stott, Marketing Manager in London, UK
16 December 2020

According to research from PwC, only 5% of leadership positions in technology are held by women. This needs to change. At Somo, we're working hard to drive the change within our own business as well as the wider sector, but we know more needs to be done. We want to see more women in tech, across all departments and all levels of seniority. 

That’s why, for the last two years, we’ve sponsored the Women in Technology World Series, a week-long conference for female tech professionals and diversity advocates from across the globe. We’ve picked out some key themes we enjoyed from this year's event to share with you.

Imposter syndrome and being your own blocker

Imposter syndrome is real. It’s the little voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough, and that at some point you’re going to be found out for being a fraudster, or an imposter. It’s reported that 70% of people suffer from imposter syndrome at least once in their lives, but even though it’s becoming more commonplace, it’s still seen as a taboo.

Jennifer Odogwu (Global Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Mimecast) gave her insights into the syndrome. She said that it’s seen as something that only women in the workplace suffer from, but that is not the case. She also discussed some of the ways imposter syndrome manifests in behaviours at work:

It can play out in the smallest way. For example, when I’m sending an email I can check it up to 20 times to make sure it’s correct. Or it can play out in the language that I use. I use the word ‘just’ a lot, so for example in meetings I might say ‘can I just make a point’. It’s that language that is self-limiting - it shows I’m doubting myself in what I’m saying and it reduces the impact.

Imposter syndrome is common, but there are ways to use the negative thoughts about your abilities to your advantage: 

  • Use it as your superpower, when you doubt your skills, use it as your catalyst to keep learning and striving to be the best you can be.

  • Keep a positivity journal of all your accomplishments, so that when you feel low and don’t feel good enough, you can look back on what you’ve already achieved. 

  • Build an army of advocates: have people around you to help you when you’re not feeling confident in your abilities.

Burnout at work, and in the time of COVID-19

It’s no wonder that work-related burnout has increased this year. As the world switched to remote working, our ways of working changed as well. According to Forbes, ‘75% of people have experienced burnout at work, with 40% saying they’ve felt it during the pandemic specifically’. 

And this has come at a higher cost for women than it has for men. Women are working longer days and on average work an extra 50 mins longer per day, while also spending a staggering 12 hours extra per week on household chores, in comparison to men. 

Mika Kioussis (Executive Coach and Education Specialist, NetApp) gave some tips on how we can combat burnout: 

  • Prioritise self-care acts, whether that’s exercising, hobbies, or socialising. It’s important to stick to taking time out for yourself. 

  • Take regular breaks throughout the day. With the absence of your commute and a physical office with break out areas, it can be difficult to find time to stop, move around, and reset. 

  • Set your working hours – and try your best to stick to them! Use your calendar to block out your working hours, and use colour coding to make it visible. 

Building inclusive & equitable workplaces

An inspiring talk on inclusivity in the workplace came from Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Now and the TIME’S UP Foundation and former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Tina’s research showed that a third of women working in tech have been afraid for their safety at work. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to create and maintain an equal and inclusive workplace culture. That is made much harder to do during the pandemic when co-workers cannot meet in person, and maintaining a company culture continues to be a priority for businesses.

So, how do tech leaders build a better workplace culture?

  • Including equity and inclusion for all employees 

  • Realising that not all employees have a desirable remote working situation, and support them wherever possible 

  • Collectively changing the workplace culture to create an acceptable place for everyone to work

What is Somo doing?

Here at Somo, we’ve been making improvements to create a more equal and fair workplace;

  • We’re increasing diversity in our workplace and this year have launched a Diversity and Inclusion Council, with a team of 26 representatives from all our offices.

  • We've worked hard to keep our culture alive as we switched to working remotely, and have helped counter the negative effects with virtual social events, Zoom coffee catch-ups, and by maintaining our social and cultural calendar while remaining virtual.

  • We've kept our flat company structure — we’re not hierarchical and encourage everyone to speak up and share their ideas and opinions.

  • We celebrate people's acheivements with our bi-annual awards. We focus on our company values, that focus on the skills and attributes we hold dear, to reward the Somo-ers who ‘live’ by them.