Why Not Women in Digital and Tech?
A quick introduction: I am an account executive at a digital agency. I create and manage social strategy and content marketing, business development, and lifecycle support for websites and applications in both the federal and commercial sectors. I can still not call myself a “woman in digital” without being dismissed at countless events, informed that I either do not “innovate” enough or contribute enough skills. And while I am neither an engineer, nor a developer, I provide an essential function: project and account management.
Why is it still difficult to refer to myself as a woman in digital and tech, much less be taken seriously for being one?
Building relationships with developers, engineers, and creative across disciplines enables us to build products that makes users happy and deliver results for clients. This is loaded in responsibility, and I am one of two women, or the only woman, on these teams. Before others can dismiss my work in social strategy, or what works with digital media, I bring up the facts: 77% of women use social media. Women continue to dominate content marketing strongholds such as Pinterest and Instagram. In general, women are more active and aware of social media platforms than men. To increase usership, I have to claim ownership of my understanding in these complex opportunities that tangle the Internet.
I hear my differences and am still questioned for this confidence. I may not code for clients, but I participate more broadly as a user and manager on what is needed in an application, in my strategy, and better tailor each of these approaches with my technical and creative teams. My efforts should not be displaced in an organizational context, or in the digital industry, because I am not a man. This rooted secularism diminishes women’s direction, impact, and hurts the overall industry’s opportunity to succeed and confront new challenges.
“Innovation” is not restricted to information architects and engineers, and is only in its half-life without participation. Between #Ask4More and Lean In, it’s time for digital agencies to be more proactive with hiring women on a different scale. Positive reinforcement for women in tech and digital can and should be a reciprocal, essential relationship.
Executives and managers can empower and foster womens’ ambitions and professional aspirations in digital and tech with support, sponsorship, and mentorship. These gender dynamics are not invisible: they are present and thriving and women, including myself, encounter them on a daily basis. To succeed, digital agencies and start-ups must challenge and reform this status quo for a promising future in digital innovation for all: invest in women, in diversity, and inclusion for a stronger workforce.
Follow-up reads on the gender imbalance in digital and tech: