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Spotlight on Rezcomm’s women in tech on International Women’s Day

The tech industry is really good at trends. There’s constant innovation, meaning technology companies often drive change in other sectors, and creating and following trends is an important part of corporate strategy. However, there’s one area where tech, an industry that prides itself on being forward thinking, has fallen behind.

Gender equality is an issue that has built a lot of noise in recent years. Current renewed pressure on the gender pay gap has sparked further momentum, but while girls are still less likely than boys to study science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) at school and university, and only 3% of women see a career in tech as their first choice, there’s a long way to go. In cybersecurity that gap is even more pronounced: 90% of the workforce are men and, according to the Global Information Security Workforce Study, this is a significant factor in the predicted shortfall of 1.8 million cybersecurity workers by 2022. This is not just an issue that is potentially detrimental to women; it’s essential to the future success of tech to get more women on board.

A recent report based on the diversity numbers in tech companies shows that female employees make up between 26% (Microsoft) and 43% (Netflix) of the workforce at major tech companies, but the percentage drops much lower when it comes to actual tech jobs. Meanwhile, PwC concludes that more than a quarter of female students have been put off a career in technology because it is too male dominated, a stereotype that is reinforced by a lack of female role models: Only 22% of students responding to PwC’s study could name a famous female working in technology, where two thirds could name a man.

What do the statistics say?

  • Only 25% of IT jobs are held by women
  • Only 5% of tech startups are owned by women
  • Only 11% of executives at Fortune 500 companies are women
  • Women hold only 28% of proprietary software jobs
  • A 2013 study showed only 12% of engineers in a total of 84 tech giants were women

The reality of these statistics is that the technology industry is falling short. However there are companies that are leading the way, looking to build teams of self-motivated, creative individuals, regardless of gender, and introducing people who can bring a range of perspectives and approaches to problem solving.

A change is needed across the whole industry to employ women for the contributions they bring to businesses. This can be done by looking for the best candidate for each job - encouraging different opinions, seeing the value of the differing paths that lead people to specific roles and encouraging the retention and upward mobility of women.

Some notable women in tech

  • Emily Roebling, the engineer most famous for her dedication to completing New York’s Brooklyn Bridge
  • Ellen Ochoa, director of the Johnson Space Centre 2013 -2018 and a former astronaut (in fact, the first Hispanic woman to travel into space)
  • Edith Clarke, the first female electrical engineer specialising in electrical power system analysis and the first female professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Ada Lovelace, mathematician and writer considered to be the World’s first computer programmer
  • Tracy Chou, a software engineer and diversity advocate
  • Myra O’Neill, CIO at Vodaphone, Ireland and winner of the 2018 Women in Tech Awardfor IT Business Leader category
  • And here’s an inspiring list of female software engineers from simpleprogrammer.com

Despite these significant contributions, the statistics show that it’s not yet considered the ‘norm’ to be female and work in tech. These exceptional women are still an ‘exception’. However, with creative women leading the way, it’s time for the tech industry to embrace the considerable value women bring to the table.

In honour of International Women’s Day, let’s meet some of the women at Rezcomm:

Victoria Wallace, Director of Digital

What was your path to working at Rezcomm?

“From a very young age I was interested in art and technology. I always had a colouring pen in one hand and a Spectrum ZX+ keyboard in the other! I was never 100% sure what I wanted to do, but I knew it was going to be something creative as that was what I enjoyed the most. That’s why I opted to take quite a general degree - in design and communication.

While I was at university we were set the task of designing and building our own portfolio website to showcase our work for prospective employers. As soon as I wrote my first line of HTML I was hooked. Finally, here was a medium that perfectly straddled creativity and technology.

In the 17 years that followed I was fortunate enough to have opportunities to work in the travel industry at every level of digital, creative and marketing. I started as a junior artworker and worked my way up to senior designer. At that point I became interested in more organisational roles. I got to try my hand at being a studio co-ordinator and project manager. I then did some specific training with the CIM in digital marketing before embarking on the more senior management roles that led me to my current position.

When I came across Rezcomm I knew it was the perfect business to get involved with. The combination of ecommerce and digital marketing services we build mean I am able to use all of the skills I developed over the years. The opportunity to help craft the experiences and influence the behaviours of over quarter of a billion passengers, while helping airports of every size from all over the world maximise revenue, is really exciting.”

What do you wish people knew about your job?

“When you work in ecommerce and digital marketing you are never an expert for long unless you are prepared to be a student for the rest of your life.

Back in the early 00’s website design was very different. Dial up modems and smaller screen sizes had a huge impact on what we could do. Over the years I have worked on projects that had to adapt to bigger screen sizes and faster Internet speeds. Then ecommerce became more common - I still remember jumping up and down with excitement when I saw the first TV commercial for eBay- mobile devices became smart, and eventually the number of devices became so numerous we had to make sites work on everything. And those are just the changes in user experience design for websites. Digital marketing has also changed dramatically. My next challenge is to learn more about providing exceptional user experiences via voice technology. There is always something new to learn, but that is one of the best things about my job.”

What has been your most inspiring project to work on?

“The most inspiring part of my job is working with airports to create strategies that optimise the entire passenger lifecycle. From the moment a passenger decides to go on a trip to long after they return home there is work to be done to support their needs. However, that work can only be done when you have a relationship with the passenger, and most airports only ‘know’ 5% of the people who visit their airports. When we start working with a new airport there is nothing more satisfying than helping them to plug in all the various Rezcomm tools and strategies and watching their performance data go through the roof!”

How would you encourage young people into STEMM careers?

“When I was a child my parents and grandparents used to give me career advice like, ‘Work with food or clothes. People will always need to eat and get dressed.’ It was great advice, and it’s still true today, but the thing that’s changed is how people buy those things. These days, technology is the biggest growth industry on the planet, and one of the most exciting. I genuinely can’t think of anything else I would rather do.”

Sarah Marks, Head of Marketing and Communications

What was your path to working at Rezcomm?

“I never thought I would work in tech, but I’m loving it!

I’m a trained youth pastor, which means I’m really passionate about people. I’ve worked as an artisan barista, so I believe a good cup of coffee is paramount… And as a digital strategist, I appreciate a good story told well.

I moved from Germany to the UK in 2009 in order to serve young people. Originally it was meant to be a gap year, but I got ‘stuck’, and while I was working full time with young people in Exeter, I started a Bachelor’s degree in Mission and Youth Work.

Somewhere along my journey, I discovered Interfaith Dialogue and found myself concentrating more and more on community cohesion and tolerance. After I finished my degree, I worked as barista in several independent cafes around town. That’s when Instagram was still a small-ish community, sharing images, moments and experiences. I started to properly engage with digital communications, tried different strategies to get more reach, and experimented with content and captions. Fast forward to today and I am working full-time in digital communications with a Diploma in Digital Marketing.

Although I don’t practice youth work full time any longer, I’m still committed to supporting the next generation of leaders. I head up the local digital community in Exeter and I’m involved in a diversity think tank run by the digital/tech scene in the southwest. I also work as a digital strategist for Become The Voice CIC, which works towards de-radicalisation and community cohesion.

My somewhat unusual background gives me a different angle to work from. Over the past nine years Exeter has become my home and my career path has become ‘digital’, which all comes together in my work at Rezcomm. It also makes sense to me to bring all of my skills together to create a space for others. Supporting community, working with people and seeing ideas become projects, people going away inspired and encouraged; that is my happy place.”

What do you wish people knew about your job?

“My role is half data, half creative. I am somehow in the middle between the ‘techy’ team members and those who just ‘don’t do’ social media. It’s often a case of making sure I always communicate in the right way to a particular individual or group. That can be tricky. I sometimes feel I nag people a lot to get information and decisions out of them. I guess I’d like people to know that doing my job involves gathering information and that requires me being friendly but persistent!”

What has been your most inspiring project to work on?

“When I joined Rezcomm full time at the start of 2019 I was looking for a work environment that was fast-paced (I get bored easily), varied and allowed me to develop my skills further. The most exciting project so far has been working on our marketing strategy. If that sounds perhaps a little dull, it’s not, because I enjoy designing comms that directly support business goals and serve clients, customers and prospects. Ensuring the overarching strategies are implemented correctly and creatively whilst measuring their impact is so satisfying! My jam is SEO and SEM work, and within that falls content strategy, which is probably my favourite field of work. I get to explore new developments at Rezcomm, test trends and apply what works.”

How would you encourage young people into STEMM careers?

“I think it’s important to showcase diversity in people, skills and opportunities. STEMM is not just for people who are good at Maths; it is a diverse and inclusive industry where everyone has a place. My personal goal is to establish a network of digital and tech professionals that draws talent from within the local community here in Exeter and from further afield. It would be fantastic to have young people attend our Digital and Tech Exeter events and for them to feel inspired to join the ranks of programmers, marketers and creatives who have already chosen a career in tech.”

The Rezcomm team brings a wealth of experience and skill to our work with airport and venue clients. If you would like to find out more about how Rezcomm’s ecommerce, CRM and emarketing software can help your business, or for help with your digital marketing and performance strategy, contact the team today. Happy International Women’s Day!

Victoria Wallace

Victoria Wallace

Director of Digital at Rezcomm, Victoria specialises in Digital marketing, CRM, digital design, UI, UX, email marketing, airports, innovation, technology, travel, parking, eCommerce.

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