Women and diversity in the tech sector formed a significant part of this year’s WebSummit, which took place in The Altice Arena, Lisbon, earlier this month. WebSummit, Europe’s largest tech conference, saw over seventy-one thousand attendees, of which forty-two percent were female.
With over one thousand speakers, two thousand three hundred startups and one thousand investors from over one hundred and sixty countries, the conference was largely focused on highlighting the involvement and need for more women in the tech industry.
This was championed by a wide selection of female founders and the inclusion of a Women in Tech Lounge, which hosted talks on content, the future of women’s sports, founder confessions and diversity in the workplace.
Notable female speakers included Lorraine Twohill, CMO at Google; Julia Hartz, Co-founder and CEO at Eventbrite, Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple; Sarah Friar, CFO at Square and Anjali Sud, CEO at Vimeo. The conference also welcomed many famous female faces, such as Kelly Rutherford, Eva Longoria, and Lottie Moss.
One female founder tasked with speaking on stage about why startups need more women in tech was Amanda Maiwald, Co-founder and CEO of Codary, a German-based computer programming lessons platform for children. Amanda began her address by speaking about the number of females involved in tech companies.
“As a tech founder, I form part of an outrageously unrepresented group, women in tech. Did you know that only twenty-five percent of tech employees identify as female, while only twenty percent of startups have one woman on their founding team?” she asked the audience quite passionately. “Why should you care?” she quizzed before adding, “you should care because it is harming your company.” She later delved into her suggestions for tech companies to close the gender gap.
“If you are serious, you need to hire more women and set a quota. You also need to evaluate your job advertisements, most ads attract men through images and adjectives. Thirdly, you need to offer flexibility and help women in your company network and join speaker panels to help show there are more women in power in tech startups.” She concluded her talk by adding, “we have a massive gender gap in tech, and you all have it in your power to change that.” A statement to which the audience applauded.
With the news that an EU directive aims to have forty percent of the seats on non-executive boards taken by women by 2026, the tech sector looks likely to hone in on recruiting females across all areas. According to Globaldata.com, at tech giant Apple the leadership level representation of women globally increased to over thirty-one percent. In addition, at Microsoft, women’s representation in Senior Management increased to over twenty-one percent.
Indeed it was evident that female representation in tech formed a welcome part at this year’s Summit, a trend that looks set to continue as the forward-thinking organisation gears up for its new conference in Rio de Janeiro next year.
On females being involved in the innovative sector, the WebSummit site reads: “We’re committed to changing the gender ratio at our events and empowering women across the globe by fostering networking opportunities, building mentorship programmes, and nurturing our online women in tech community.” This year, that sentiment was evidently shared by every tech-loving person in attendance.