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Conquering Diversity: the Uphill Battle for Women in the Tech Industry

Posted on May 2021 By Charlotte Herapath

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Last week, iO Associates Lead Consultants Charlotte Herapath and Dan Erasmus hosted the latest in the series of the South Wales Technology Leader’s Breakfast Briefings, and what a fantastic session it was!

We were joined by Tiffany Dawson,ex-mechanical engineer turned career coach for women in STEM. She teaches step-by-step frameworks to become confident, strategy-savvy and influential leaders with ease and grace. Having worked at global engineering consultancies across Australia and the UK, she witnessed and experienced the many challenges women still face in male-dominated industries. 

​The session kicked off with discussing the barriers our Tech Leaders are currently facing when it comes to D&I. It’s well known that hiring technical people is harder than ever due to the ever-growing skills gap we see in the tech industry, that coupled with the massive economic crisis we have also been faced with over the last 12 months – it’s safe to say it’s a buyer’s market at the moment.

​For companies that have readjusted their focus and are looking to hire more junior people – this is less of a pain point. It was pointed out that sometimes companies focus on hiring a list of skills rather than a person. And by doing this, it often closes off a whole pool of applicants. It’s also tricky for companies to find the balance between doing the right thing when it comes to ensuring a diverse group of employees but also making sure the needs of the business are being met and adhered to.

​We then touched on what is working well for our Leaders, and from this conversation some valuable hints and tips were shared. One of our Leaders had recently hired people that have come from bootcamps – candidates who are often overlooked by larger more corporate companies that demand a CompSci degree from a Russell Group university. There are several outreach programs which our Leaders can partner with. There are options to work with universities, as well as specific advertising facilities that are only for women, and of course initiatives like Code First: Girls.

​The Covid-19 pandemic may also be seen to have brought some change. Companies have been forced to become more flexible and open with how their staff operate. Parents of younger children could now both be at home. Instead of the statutory 2 weeks paternity leave, both parents of newborn children could now be at home. One of our leaders recognised that this offered new mothers the chance to get back to work more quickly, should they wish to do so.

​It was a fantastic, interesting session. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Tiffany for joining us, the D&I conversation can sometimes be a hard one to have, particularly when you are coming from a position of power and privilege. Tiffany’s presence and knowledge on the subject helped everyone feel at ease and encouraged an open and honest conversation.

​If you have any suggestions on future topics for our next event or would be interested in attending, please contact Charlotte at, or Dan at