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Laptops are useful, but bring with them privacy and security concerns. — Photo: © Tim Sandle.

For women entering the high echelons of businesses the process can be tough and there are often a lack of role models, especially for specific sectors like technology. To provide a measure of inspiration of women seeking to enter businesses, Digital Journal has heard from two entrepreneurs.

First is Rhian Lewis, Developer Relations Advocate at Boson Protocol, a decentralized commerce protocol that enables products, services and experiences to be sold as NFTs in the metaverse.

Lewis assesses the extent of gender inequality in the technology sector specifically, as well as examining work in its wider context. Lewis notes: “Gender inequality in the tech industry, as with all other forms of inequality, can be solved only by creating technologies that allow individuals to interact online in a fair and equitable manner that does not entrench existing inequities.”

One solution noted by Lewis is with designing the end-product to be gender neutral, for this helps the internal dynamics within the company. Lewis finds: “Creating technologies that can be used by anyone and trusted by everyone is one of the key responsibilities we have as software developers and technologists, as this enables a future where everyone can participate on equal terms.”

Taking the technology issue further, Lewis says: “Everyone uses technology in different ways, and it can be very difficult to get inside the heads of people who are not like you and imagine what their needs, priorities, and potential user journeys are. The more different types of people you have developing your technology – not just in developer roles but throughout the team – the more different perspectives you get, and the more likely you are to be able to build technology that is applicable to everyone. That’s why adequate female representation from development to delivery is so important.”

In terms of general recommendations, Lewis proposes: “Building a team that has a true diversity of thought, as well as diversity of individuals, means that all opinions have the opportunity to be heard. The most important advice is to listen, and if someone says there is a problem, to believe them.”

Second is Ellen Holcomb, Co-Founder at Holcomb Energy Systems, a research and development company. Holcomb has looked at the value that women in the workforce provide to businesses: “McKinsey Global Institute’s women in tech statistics suggest that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025, simply by advancing female equality.”

There are multiple reasons for these value-streams, says Holcomb: “Women’s life experiences, and therefore our worldviews, are often very different from those of men. Women have the right to choose their career path regardless of gender, race, class, or sexual orientation. When everyone is included, everyone benefits. The fact that women hold only 11 percent of executive positions in Silicon Valley speaks for itself. Women in tech have to work twice as hard as men to get ahead and we still have a very long way to go.”

In terms of her recommendations, Holcomb indicates: “Both employers and colleagues should pay heed to women in the workplace and encourage their hard work and advancement. Women should be offered the very same opportunities as men and be compensated fairly for their work.”

Looping back to her own company, Holcomb advises: “At Holcomb Energy Systems, we put the same commitment into our workforce as we do our technology. We are actively recruiting and advancing women in key positions within our company. Women’s perspectives and talents are critical to the successful deployment of our technology and the future of our planet. We hope that our clean energy generation technology brings opportunity, independence, and inspiration to girls and women everywhere.”

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