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Women in STEM 2021

Let’s talk about senior women in tech

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Gillian Harford

Country Executive 30% Club Ireland

We should be focussing on the fact it’s a great time to be a senior woman in technology in Ireland.


Typically, with STEM, we tend to focus on early-stage pipeline and the genuine need for more diverse talent to grow the tech sector. However, we can forget to point to great opportunities that move beyond recruitment and retention and focus the narrative on more senior progression.   

As an organisation, our focus is on gender balance at the most senior levels within organisations, for better business outcomes. We see a great opportunity to talk about the added value of senior women in STEM, in a way that benefits employees, businesses, the tech industry and Ireland. 

Let’s start at the top and celebrate good news – gender progress into very senior roles is more successful when there are role models. We have great examples in Ireland including Ann O’Leary at Vodafone, Cathriona Hallahan at Microsoft, Maeve Culloty at HP to name just a few.   

Our focus is on gender balance at the most senior levels within organisations, for better business outcomes.

From the inside out 

Data from Balance for Better Business, the Government initiative on gender balance at board and C-suite, shows that gender balance in senior leadership roles in large multinational companies with operations in Ireland (the majority of which are tech based) is 30%, 7% higher than the national average.    

What about the opportunity to extend that sphere of influence? We regularly get asked to suggest great women and tech execs to fill positions on boards. Yet board experience isn’t an automatic consideration in multinationals as their boards tend to be overseas – so it’s a great opportunity to connect our senior women in tech with other industries and share their expertise. 

Capitalising on new ways of working 

Perhaps the greatest opportunity is how we move forward post COVID. While many sectors have struggled and women in those sectors have been adversely impacted; the tech-based industries have quickly adapted. The opportunity to work in a more agile way has removed many of the barriers that impacted previously on women progressing to senior roles. The combination of Ireland as a hub for senior matrix roles, and the ability to work anytime, anyplace – gives Ireland the opportunity to be the poster child for great talent progressing in a new agile world of work. 

So time to add to the narrative on women in stem and talk about the road to the top! 

For more information contact Gillian Harford, 30% Club Ireland  

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