The tech industry needs to sell itself to women as a lifestyle to aspire to, a senior female executive at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has said.
Dev Patel, vice-president of Cloud Go-to-Market at HDS, took some time out of HDS Connect 2015 to speak to Computer Weekly about her experiences as a woman in the technology industry.
With over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Patel has held technical roles at the likes of HP, Cisco and HDS.
She believes more females would be attracted to the technology industry if they were aware of how flexible the industry is and how successful you can be.
“We need to sell the technology industry as a lifestyle. We need to show girls the lifestyle they can aspire to be part of and that will really grab them.
“My mum was in medicine and that has a bad work-life balance. Tech is phenomenal for allowing women to carry out every role they have – Mum, wife, worker, friend, etc. With technology as the enabler it allows you to be flexible in your career. You need a job where you have good work-life integration rather than balance. That is attractive to women when looking for a job,” said Patel.
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- Men and women disagree on whether equal opportunities are being offered to both sexes working in IT.
Having grown up near the NASA Ames Research Center in California, Patel said she fell in love with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at a young age.
“In my senior year in high school my maths teacher suggested I apply for the NASA scholarship, as I was inspired at school watching the space shuttle. In my third year of studying I realised what tech really is – solving problems.”
She said many women who enter the technology industry drop out a few years later.
“There will be periods where things are not good and you don’t enjoy everything about your job, however opportunities will open up. Things change and I’m pleased I stuck at it.”
Patel advised that working in a male dominated industry can occasionally throw up some situations that you might not be completely comfortable with.
“Be true to who you are and be comfortable in your own skin. You have to set your boundaries early on,” she said.