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  • Writer's pictureOctagon Careers

Women in IT Awards Europe 2019: Fostering diversity in the Tech Industry

We recently received great news: our CEO at Octagon Careers, Vanesa Cotlar, has been shortlisted in the Business Leader of the Year category after being nominated for the 2019 Women in IT Awards Europe.

Vanesa is a finalist of the event which, will take place on on September 25, 2019 in Berlin, next to other Business and Technology leaders within the same category. Other shortlisted leaders include: Monica Eaton-Cardone from Chargebacks911, Petra Pirron from Datavard, Mara Jekosch from IBM, Hajar El Haddaoui from Swisscom and Anne Katharina Rhode from ThoughtWorks.

The topic of the event sparked an interesting discussion in our team about the challenges as well as the opportunities of women choosing “to make their way” in the tech industry, and as business leaders more broadly, as well as the value of diversity in teams. A quick Google search by the team yielded the following findings:

#1 As of 2019, women held only 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEO roles (Fortune, 2019)
#2 In major tech companies, only 22% of tech jobs are held by women (Statista, 2019)

Source: (Statista, 2019)

#3 In a computer science classroom, the average number of girls to boys is less than 20% (Harvard Business Review , 2019)

What this means, for us, is a market of untapped talent and potential. With the war for talent at an all-time high, offering women the right role models and avenues to consider careers in tech is essential. As the last decade challenged most industries to aim for technological development and innovation, it generated new roles and a lack of freely available talent in the market. In response, considering the fierce competition between companies hunting for the top talent, there can be numerous opportunities left unfilled.

Traditionally, women are less likely to apply for jobs that they are arguably qualified for, than their male counterparts are. A LinkedIn study found that women are more likely to apply for a role only when they meet 100% of the requirements, whereas men will apply after meeting just 60% of the requirements. Due to this, it is essential for women to have strong role models, and examples of how others have broken traditional stereotypes and barriers, and entered the field, even when they didn’t meet all of the qualifications on paper. Events like the Women in IT Awards can serve as an amazing source of inspiration and to propel women to pursue professional and entrepreneurial opportunities in tech. Ultimately, this helps bring more women into the field, and helps fill valuable positions for companies.

Annually, there are many events, forums and conferences to recognize the work and achievements of women in the workplace, and a growing number of tech and IT-related events more specifically. These events help promote diversity and equality, and have a big impact on individuals and society in general. In the current process of deep evolution and even transformation in terms of economy and society, there is a critical need for understanding and collaboration to ensure companies realize the true potential of diversity and they do not lose important skills and human knowledge.

On an individual and organizational level, recognition of diversity and equality has become increasingly important. Partly, society is just going that way, which is great. But in addition, studies are showing that improving diversity can have a very positive impact on business results. It is why we also see many male groups, and male participants, of more commonly female groups, stepping in to support the growth of women as well. For example, a recent study says that two thirds of men surveyed believe that women will achieve equality only with men taking actions in supporting their rights, too (Ipsos Mori; Global Institute for Women's Leadership, 2018). To date, the places that have seen the largest difference are those organizations in which those holding senior positions see the value of having increased diversity across leadership positions.

The World Economic Forum 2018 Global Gender Gap report provides some insight and highlights particular industries in which women are currently under-represented. For example, of those who work within the field of Artificial Intelligence, women make up only 22% of the profession. If, for some individuals, the reason for not pursuing a career in IT or tech is a lack of confidence, fear of bias, or not wishing to cross the perceived ‘social norms’,

then, recognitions like the Women in IT Awards can have a big impact. This shows society women not only belong in the industry, but can certainly thrive and succeed at the highest levels and should therefore not be afraid to put their name forward for opportunities.


Carreau, D. (2019). The ugly truth behind why men are more likely to get noticed by job recruiters, according to new LinkedIn study. Retrieved August 2019, from

Fortune. (2019). Fortune 500 Companies 2019: Who Made the List.

Harvard Business Review . (2019). Fixing Tech’s Gender Gap.

Ipsos Mori; Global Institute for Women's Leadership. (2018). Men believe equality is achieved with their support.

LinkedIn Talent Solutions. (2018). Gender Insights Report: How women find jobs differently.

Statista. (2019). The Tech World Is Still a Man's World.

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