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Q&A: Creating a technology future for the women of tomorrow

Despite progress being made - thanks to a combination of public support from the likes of Google and Facebook and progressive work by smaller companies - the technology industry remains male-dominated.

To delve into the topic a bit deeper, we spoke to Elisa Steele, CEO of Jive Software, to discuss the progress that has been made for women in technology and what more needs to be done.

1. How do you see the current state of play for women in technology?

I’d like to see a lot more women in tech from all aspects. A recent survey of the top 9 tech companies in Silicon Valley by Fortune reveals that on average, women comprise about one-third of the workforce. That gap expands the higher up you go in an organisation, with the best company showing women holding 29 per cent of leadership jobs. We are behind!

2. What more needs to be done?

A lot. But, I’m particularly passionate about two topics. First, creating new paths for the young women of tomorrow. We need to enhance their access to pursue whatever they want to be. We need to create the right environment for them to be confident to break stereotypes. Even more so, we need managers and leaders to open doors for talented, motivated women in specific ways.

Second, we need more diversity in in the boardroom today. Leadership drives and inspires change and we need more CEOs, both men and women, to create and demand women at all levels of the workplace, including the boardroom.

3. How big of a role do schools and colleges have to play?

They play a huge role in our future. If we don’t make sure that schools, colleges and learning environments nurture young talent then we won’t have a future where women can have a larger role and change the paradigm of today.

We also need to think in the “now”, especially for women who might not have the opportunities in the workplace today to help them develop. That should be top of mind because we know diversity is good for business results. For example, according to a CEB Global study on Creating Competitive Advantage Through Workforce Diversity (2013), employees in diverse and inclusive teams put in more effort, stay longer, and demonstrate more commitment.

4. Is Jive running or supporting any initiatives at the moment?

We have partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative and have a commitment to help foster education in technology. We pursue this commitment with our time as leaders and all of our employees have the opportunity to participate as well.

We have also partnered with HeForShe and PwC to help drive broader awareness for gender equality globally.

Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens