How Can We Create a More Diverse Workforce in Product?

I was recently interviewed for Canvas conference, an award-winning, annual product management community event, about my views on the importance of equity of opportunity, intersectionality, advice to underrepresented entry level talent starting out in tech, and what I love about being a Product Manager.

Most statistics about women in technology are bleak – for example, TrustRadius found that 72% of women within the tech space felt outnumbered in business meetings (2018).

So, I thought I’d share some of the interview here.

What’s your biggest achievement in the last year?

My biggest achievement last year was the bucket load of mistakes that I made. Whilst I had a brilliant time being involved in some great initiatives in 2021, I think LinkedIn and our online presence can easily be a highlights reel.

Being open and upfront about my learning journey and sharing that vulnerability has kickstarted lots of meaningful conversations with other women who are interested in entering the technology sector, and that’s what matters to me to change the face of the industry.

Would you say that women are underrepresented in tech?

There is a huge gap in the representation of women in technology, which goes beyond just the gendered percentage of the workforce population. 

From first-time roles to educational background, cultural “fit” to funding opportunities, women have been shown time and time again to face numerous barriers which are not experienced to the same degree by their male counterparts. 

It’s an ongoing issue, which is only further exacerbated by taking an intersectional approach to what it means to be “represented” in the industry.

What advice would you give to a young woman starting her career in tech?

Here are 3 starting points to reflect on what you bring to the table:

  1. You have a new perspective. Diversity of thought has been shown to have value for business. If you have a different background to everyone else at the organisation, chances are, you see what is unclear to external players, and will be able to notice and challenge different elements of the project.
  2. You’re here out of passion, not out of automation. If you’re working to make the switch into tech, that’s a conscious choice you’ve made. It requires hard work and a strong interest in the industry. This means you’re more likely to have thought through why this could be a great fit for you!
  3. You’re a resourceful, self-led learner. With the pandemic, there are more free, accessible e-learning resources than ever before. Whether it’s learning to code, reading articles and reports, speaking to people in the industry… your proactive, self-enabled learning journey shows your initiative and drive.

For you, what makes a career in tech so enjoyable?

As an ex-languages student, I love being able to translate complex requirements between different groups of people. 

Being a Product Manager at a data and analytics startup means I spend my time understanding the acute pain of our target market and working with a variety of talented engineering and data science teams to design the best possible solutions to tackle them.

For me, being a great PM takes a combination of people skills, curiosity about technology, and proactive prioritisation and strategic thinking, which I find an engaging and meaningful challenge!

If you’re interested, you can read the full interview here.

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