In 2022, women are living in a world which is set up for men. At workplaces and in homes, examples abound of the ‘default male bias’. This bias is entrenched in all our psyches to see the male experience as ‘normal’ and anything else as niche. Despite females being half of the population!
As a result, women routinely face a range of annoyances, frustrations, and even dangers - ranging from long queues to the bathroom; mis-diagnosis of heart attacks, as doctors are trained on male symptoms; and poorer outcomes in car accidents, as crash dummies are designed on male anatomy.
Unequal representation of women is still the norm
I am lucky to work for a company that is supportive of its diverse workforce, and goes the extra mile to strengthen diversity and inclusion. In a recent company-wide survey, 92% of us agreed strongly that Arkose Labs provides an environment that “fosters inclusivity, valuing, the importance and necessity of equality and diversity”. Go team!
Having said that, unequal representation of women is still the norm in our industry. It is due to multiple and complex reasons, which we need to all commit to tackling this head-on.
Too often, we come across panel discussions that have no women speakers. Or it's only the “women in X industry” session that features females. Businesses need to make a conscious effort to ensure that there is a mix of male and female voices represented. At our annual Bankrupting Fraud Summit, which normally features more than 50 industry speakers, we ensure that there are no male-only panels, and aim for even representation of speakers from across the sexes.
Put yourself first, seek out opportunities
We cannot solve the skewed male-to-female ratio in technology overnight. We will have to start in the way we educate children and consequently how we hire people.
Many girls ‘perceive’ that to be working in technology, they need to be some kind of a nerd or have incredible technical skills. This perception is far from the truth. I know of highly successful people in cybersecurity who have come from varied educational backgrounds - ranging from computer science, history grads, high school drop-outs, and PhDs in astrophysics. There are many different routes that can lead you to a successful career in this dynamic industry.
Only when you take that first step, can you tread the road ahead. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and more importantly, don’t beat yourself over it or compare it to expectations based on the male norm.
Many women tend to shy away when it comes to seeking a raise or promotion. Don’t. Put yourself first when an opportunity arises. Seek out opportunities to hone your presentation skills and embrace public speaking. Look out for ways that can enhance your overall quality of life through your work — travel opportunities, flexible working, or developing lasting friendships.
Be confident, stand up for yourself, and inspire other women to stand up for themselves. Because only then we will be able to #BreakTheBias.