International Women’s Day: NovaFori Women Round Table

NovaFori Round Table International Women's Day

Invest in women: Accelerate Progress

Welcome to our special Women in Tech Round Table edition, commemorating International Women's Day on March 8th. As we commemorate International Women's Day under the 2024 theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” we're reminded of the critical importance of gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and their rights to healthier lives. In this special Q&A Round Table, we had the privilege of sitting down with four exceptional women from our company: Jessica Christenson, Alicja Kaminska, Jayanthi Chandrasekaran and Blanca Rosales.

In this round table discussion, we delve into the personal journeys, insights, and. From their career paths to overcoming challenges and envisioning the future, join us as we explore the multifaceted landscape of women in technology.

Career journey and inspirations

Q: Can you briefly share your career journey and how you got into the tech industry?


‘’I should thank my school who gave introduction to computer science and had labs too which was rare in India. I found that interesting and enjoyed coding. Though my graduation degree was in electronics and communication, I chose subjects related to IT for optional modules. I started my career in IT as system tester in India. I later did masters in e-Business system to switch to developer role and get back to coding! NovaFori gave me lot of opportunities to work on different projects and roles so in my career I have been a tester, developer, scrum master, team lead, technical lead and currently work as Solutions Architect.’’

Impact of women in tech

Q: How do you believe diversity, particularly gender diversity, contributes to innovation in the tech industry?


‘’Nowadays, innovation is closely intertwined with strategy and performance. Research shows, that innovation thrives in teams where diverse experiences and thinking combine for solutions. In today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape, the need for diverse perspectives and inclusive work environments is more crucial than ever.

The progression of women in technology extends beyond the social justice, and has become a strategic necessity for fostering innovation and facilitating growth.

Innovating is about identifying opportunities that have not been considered before. Therefore, encouraging and promoting women's involvement in tech unlocks a reserve of untapped potential. Women bring different viewpoints and problem-solving approaches. Consequently, embracing gender diversity encourages dynamic, which provokes cutting-edge solutions to complex challenges.’’


“Women and men compliment one another in teams—many studies have noted that women are better listeners and score higher on innovation, for instance, so they are great additions to teams in tech companies. Balance is important, so bringing diverse people together always drives better outcomes, especially on strategic visions and long-term planning”  

Overcoming challenges

Q: Can you discuss a specific challenge you encountered in your role and how you overcame it?


‘’I believe, one of the challenges a woman in tech can face in their early career is a lack of role models for herself in senior positions. The scarcity of visible female examples can make it difficult for aspiring women to envision their long-term careers in the field. Nonetheless, currently, more and more mentorship programs are being established. They encourage networking with other women in the field, provide opportunities for experienced tech experts to share their practice, as well as guide and motivate future generations of female tech enthusiasts. Participating in networking events and engaging with other successful women in tech provided me with valuable connections, directions, and opportunities. I would encourage any woman starting her career in tech to become involved in societies and other network groups.’’

Q: What advice you’ve given to a woman in a traditionally male-dominated environment?


‘’I do find few female developers in UK IT industry. I was ISTQB certified tester and then switched to developer role so anything is possible with proper training. Of course, pursue what you enjoy and have flare for and not because of trends. I always believe work speaks for itself so focus on your contribution, improvements and be vocal of your ideas. Good job done will shine and be appreciated by all and that way you gain confidence of not just your peers but also clients you may work with.’’

Future of women in tech

Q: How do you envision the future of women in tech, both within our company and the industry as a whole?


‘’In many simple ways, ensuring women are featured in a balanced way on interview panels, at events, featured in publications and in the media, and positions on boards all help women of diverse backgrounds find mentors and role models. Despite women performing just as well in these courses in school, as women get older and are forced to consider to take on more home responsibilities or childcare, they often pivot to different careers. I think more companies need to take more responsilbility for encouraging men to take on their full share of home and child care by offering parental leave for fathers to enable women to continue careers in more demanding roles, since it seems unlikely that governments will make meaningful changes in this respect.’’

Q: What can men do to help achieve equality?


‘’I believe it's crucial to promote inclusivity by actively listening to women's voices and encouraging diverse perspectives in meetings and decision-making processes. Also, advocating for equal opportunities through supporting initiatives that promote gender diversity in recruitment, hiring, and career advancement is essential. Challenging biases by speaking up against stereotypes and unconscious biases in the workplace helps create a culture of respect and fairness. Finally, standing up for women's rights and supporting their professional growth through mentoring, sponsoring, and championing their achievements is essential in achieving a more equitable environment.’’

Leadership and mentorship

Fact:  Did you know that the representation of women in C-suite positions decreased to only 10% during the pandemic? In fact, only around 5% of large company CEOs are women.

Q: What qualities do you believe are essential for effective leadership in the tech sector, particularly for women?


‘’All journeys to top begin at the bottom. I would encourage young girls to choose STEM subjects and not think its for men. The qualities of leader are same irrespective of gender, they should inspire and lead teams. As you grow you will realise teams’ success is your success. Women are better positioned as leaders as they have natural instinct of caring, nourishing and managing.’’

Q: How can organisations address systemic barriers and biases that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in C-suite positions?


‘’Many agencies now are focused on giving an equal number of male and female candidates to companies for leadership searches, so finding the right agency is a good start. It’s important to note that men apply for roles where they only meet 60% of the criteria, where a woman will only apply at 90%. Men are also more likely to take credit for team achievements, whereas women are more likely to credit the achievements of the team. Ensuring that interviewing focuses on drawing this out and understanding the benefit of a team player at the C Level is a clear win for companies who want a balanced leadership team.’’

Personal growth and development

Q: How do you prioritise continuous learning and professional development in your role?


’Apart from expanding relevant tech skills through online courses, or trainings, I seek to continuously engage in discussions about emerging trends and best practices. Whether it's an online meeting, networking event, or a conference, I value the exchanges for knowledge-sharing opportunities, connections with motivated individuals, and getting fresh perspectives on the latest tech trends. Personally, they allow me to stay inspired, share my knowledge, and learn from others. Consequently, it is a driver for both personal growth and contributions to the broader tech community.’’


‘’I set clear boundaries between work and personal life, prioritizing activities that recharge me. Whether it's spending time with loved ones or pursuing hobbies, I ensure my overall well-being. In navigating bias or discrimination, I take a proactive approach, advocating for inclusivity, and addressing issues directly. I promote open dialogue and understanding while seeking support from mentors and colleagues, empowering me to overcome obstacles with confidence and resilience.’’

While some progress has been made in addressing the gender gap in technology, women still represent only about 26% of the workforce in IT. Although this is an improvement from the 19% figure reported in 2019, achieving gender balance requires further efforts and initiatives.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us honour the contributions of women in technology and reaffirm our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and empowerment. The stories and insights of Blanca, Jessica, Alicja, and Jayanthi serve as a reminder of the incredible talent and potential within our company and the tech industry at large. Join us in celebrating the achievements of women in tech, not just today but every day, as we continue to champion diversity, innovation, and excellence at NovaFori.

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