The Software Report is known and respected for its news coverage and insights into the growing tech sector. The New York City-based organisation has a keen eye for issues affecting the industry, including the marked gender imbalance. Knowing the value of female role models for young women making career choices - and wishing to highlight the standout female performers in a male-dominated industry - they compile a list of the Top 50 Women Leaders in SaaS. It's a list that Workspace 365 COO Sarah van den Born has just joined.
The underrepresentation won't be solved by a list, nor will it disappear overnight, but the list provides ample evidence that there is no reason for women not to be at the very forefront of technology.
One gender, huge diversity
Study the bios of the 50 women recognised for their leadership in software. You will find evidence of every management skill. These women have amassed experience across diverse sectors. They have qualifications across a broad range of subjects. They head everything from telecoms giants to non-profits. They include entrepreneurs, strategic thinkers, and those who have stumbled into tech and found themselves thoroughly at home. And while their interests vary, their passion and drive are common themes.
Many members of the list actively support STEM initiatives or mentor women making their way in male-dominated environments. Some have found their team-building and problem-solving skills have enabled them to succeed despite a limited technical background. Sarah is one of those.
Making tech more accessible
The career histories are brief but show another important quality. It's the ability that many of these women have to close the gap between technology and its users. Their skill makes the applications less daunting and more accessible. Consequently, the technology is more likely to be adopted, producing the desired results.
This is an important point for developers to understand. In general terms, there are differences between how men and women approach and use technology. If adoption strategies have a male-centric focus, half of their potential users could be discouraged - not a good strategy in a highly competitive sector! Software plays an increasing part in all our lives. It drives everything from our banking systems to our healthcare. Women must be active in shaping both software and the way it's used.
The Top 50 list celebrates those women judged to be leading the way. But there are many, many more making a significant contribution who also deserve recognition. Across the world, women are coding, testing, shaping and delivering software that's used in accounting, finance, property, social care, defence, aerospace, marketing and education - every sector. They're working within major Silicon Valley enterprises, in seats of learning and in start-ups in local communities. Despite the gender imbalance, the Top 50 List is just the tip of an incredible iceberg.