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Connecting Women

companies in Ireland is dependent on their ability to grow and develop. The ability to maintain a strong pipeline of skilled graduates is key to this long-term success, she says. “We all have a role to play in this, through supporting initiatives promoting our roles in technology in schools and colleges; supporting a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation with a view to increasing the number of women pursuing careers in the Technology industry.” When Treacy joined Ernst & Young more than 20 years ago, there were very few women in the profession and even less in the technology sector. “Google, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn were not in existence; there were no smartphones and clouds were in the sky!” she says. “If I searched for a female role model at the early stage of my career, there were few, if any, and that’s the essence of the issue. The lack of women in senior positions in the technology space can mean that the role models don’t exist today for those climbing the career ladder,” she adds. Women have come a long way in technology, taking top positions at global organizations, she says, and this is encouraging to other women to adopt a career in the field. “We should acknowledge women like Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Virginia Rometty, Neelie Kroes and Louise Phelan, but road blocks remain. We must encourage women from a young age to consider Science and Technology as an attainable and attractive career choice,” Treacy comments. “I very much welcome the commitment that I have seen in organizations to diversity and creating an inclusive work environment in order to unlock everyone’s potential. A particular focus has to be gender equality. There is no quick fix however. It will take a combined effort from government, business and individuals and the focus has to be on talent pipeline and not just the board room alone,” she adds. The presence of powerful women in tech fields could signal the demise of the industry’s historically exclusionary culture and encourage more women to become leaders in technology and influence entrepreneurial ideas. Treacy hosted Connecting Women in Technology’s breakfast briefing in Dublin in October last year, which gathered more than

Paula Neary

200 women working in the technology sector to network, bring out the entrepreneur within and get inspired to move into more senior positions in their companies.

Harnessing Talent Designed to harness female entrepreneur and intrapreneurship, by bringing together Ireland’s technology female leaders, the event featured guest speakers including Triona Campbell from beActive International, Fijitsu Ireland’s Regina Moran, and Frank O’Keeffe from Ernst & Young. “Attitudes towards women in technology are changing rapidly and female participation continues to increase in this sector. The recent establishment by Enterprise Ireland of a €250K Competitive Feasibility Fund is to be welcomed and will help women investigate the viability of new growth. However, more needs to be done to boost the number of innovative, export-oriented business being set up by female entrepreneurs.” Olivia Leonard, Developer Operations Manager at Facebook comments that “CWIT is one of many initiatives Facebook is part of, which focuses on attracting more women to the technology sector.” “At Facebook, we get involved in both networking events and educational activities, to raise the profiles of the challenging, interesting jobs the tech industry offers,” Leonard says. “We want to encourage women early in their education and careers to take into consideration

the vast opportunities the technology arena can bring and to demystify some of the myths about the tech world,” she adds. Attracting women into the technology industry also has a significant impact on the country’s economy. Paula Neary, a Managing Director for Health & Public Service at Accenture Ireland, which runs an internal programme Accent on Women (AoW) focused on the retention and advancement of women in the firm, believes “it is an economic imperative that we attract women into the technology industry – otherwise Ireland’s competitiveness and our development as a knowledge economy will suffer.” “Part of our future health and growth is dependent on attracting the right kind of investment into Ireland”, she says. According to Neary, the future of such high technology companies in Ireland is dependent on their ability to grow and develop and in order to do this we need a qualified pipeline of highly skilled and qualified graduates. Women are a critical part of that development and “we have a role to play through supporting and driving initiatives that support a culture of innovation among students with a view to increasing the number of women entering the technology industry.” “Connecting Women in Technology really helps to champion this in Ireland and focuses not only on attracting women into technology, but also on retention and empowering women to succeed,” Neary adds. Silicon Valley Global | 73

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