This is guest blog from VMware EMEA’s R&D site director, Diana Stefanova, who talks about the benefits of being a woman in a technology career and advises others how to follow in her footsteps.
People still tend to ask how I ended up in R&D at one of the world’s biggest technology companies and my answer has always been the same; I actually think that the technology chose me. While my career started in finance, I have always worked for IT companies. Over the years, I went from leading the finances of IT companies through to leading the business operations and corporate development at a major software developer, which eventually led to running the R&D Operations for VMware’s R&D Sites in EMEA. Although the IT chose me, I’ve never looked back. This industry is changing the world we live in – both in our working and consumer lives.
Females represent approximately half of the world’s population, and it’s well-known that this isn’t currently reflected in the IT industry. In this market we are always in need for more resources and by not encouraging women to go into technology we are missing out on some vital intellectual IT resource! There are multiple research studies already suggesting that better business results are achieved in companies with a more diverse leadership team and think there should be more initiatives to encourage women to get into the IT space. Women and men are very different and the perspectives both bring to the table are invaluable when it comes to solving problems. In R&D especially, you need both a male and female attitude to addressing the pros and cons of any particular product – especially as there’s just as much chance the end-user is female as they are male.
This mindset should be applicable across the industry – and across departments. I think we need a change in perception that the IT space is a place for males, so it feels more natural for women to consider the industry when making their career choices. I’ve been lucky to end up in IT, but don’t really feel that other women know just how rewarding it can be and the industry is missing out as a result. After all, having the right balance between men and women throughout IT companies would make a huge difference in the way that companies operate and I definitely believe a shift would lead to better results.
But in a lot of ways, it’s up to the current women in IT to stand up and encourage younger women to believe in themselves and educate them on the merits of being in such an interesting industry. I have to say that both my first and my current managers are women and they have made an enormous impact on me and my career. My first manager believed in me and helped me become an independent, proactive and well-rounded professional, while my current manager is a great role-model and someone that many people could learn from. I would encourage other women in the industry to talk about the great work they are doing. I myself have had the opportunity to work with, and get inspired by, many women and this made me who I am today. I’m very proud that VMware chose to take part in the FDM everywoman in Technology Awards this year as the event is a great way to showcase the fantastic work that women are doing in the industry and to encourage the younger generation to follow in their footsteps.