Women in the tech sector would like to see more female role models, less gender bias, and more flexibility in the workforce, a panel discussion was told on Wednesday.
Tessabelle Camilleri, a senior manager at Tech.MT, speaking at a 'Women in Tech Times of Malta event hosted by Pink Magazine, said that jobs, current and future, all involve digital skills.
“It’s important that women familiarise themselves with tech, even if they do not want to delve into a tech career,” she said.
“Even those who do not want to be an engineer or software developer, technology exists in every role, be it agriculture, health care, research, logistics- technology is integrated in each of these roles.”
While there were numerous science and technology courses and more female role models, less gender bias, and more flexibility in the workforce were needed.
Camilleri was on a panel discussion with female experts in the field of technology.
The discussion ranged from how the industry has changed over the years, the gender gap in the industry and what needs to be done to see more young women building careers in science and technology.
The discussion, led by panel facilitator Ramona Depares, was held at Brewhouse in Mrieħel and saw participants from Dakar Software Systems, EY Malta, FinanceMalta, Melita, Scope Solutions, and Tech.MT.
Camilleri said it was important that while there are more STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects available at schools and post-secondary institutions, the change in mentality that girls could take on tech roles must start at school.
“We have analysed data that shows that when it comes to Form 3 students studying tech subjects, 77% are boys, while 23% aregirls,” she said.
“When it came to computing, 76% of students were boys, while 24% were girls. What is missing? I strongly believe that not only do we need to start the discussion at home, but we also need to see more effort from our education system, stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and politicians. We need less gender bias and more female role models in the tech field.”
She also spoke about the importance of work-life balance and that companies provided a policy of flexibility with their employees.
Sarah Gusman, Customer Success at Scope Solutions, who recently finished her maternity leave, also spoke about flexibility at the workplace.
She recalled how her company gave her the opportunity to keep in touch with her colleagues, even while she was on maternity leave. She spoke about how cloud solutions helped ensure flexibility in the company, not only for working mothers but all employees.
“Coming back to work after maternity leave didn’t feel like I was going back to a new place or that I missed out, as I kept in touch with my colleagues from time to time during my leave,” she said.
“There were moments when I would join online workshops, sharing knowledge and advice through the cloud application.”
Raisa Mifsud, IP Core Infrastructure Systems Manager at Melita, said that while the industry is a male-dominated one, she did not feel challenged by her colleagues but welcomed.
“I don’t see any discrimination at my place of work,” she said, highlighting that while a lot of family commitments still fall on the shoulders of female employees, there is a lot of support provided by the company.
The panel also included Amber Debono, Business Development Executive at Dakar Software Systems, Gertruda Piqoni Technology Consulting Manager at EY Malta and Jasmine Farrugia Head of CX at Nium at FianceMalta.
Members of the audience joined the discussion, with science communicator and educator Danielle Farrugia highlighting the need for a cultural shift in society when discussing female and male roles in society.
“How are we ensuring that good policies, for example allowing breastfeeding at work, are there but that companies are normalising such policies,” she asked.
“How are we driving the conversation with our male colleagues and friends? We need to bring this cultural shift.”