The changing face of female leadership in tech

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

In recent years, the European tech industry has experienced a transformative shift, marked by a growing recognition of the contributions of female leaders. The changing face of female leadership in tech is not only reshaping organisational dynamics, but also fostering innovation, diversity, and inclusivity. RightBrains explores how perceptions around female leadership in a traditionally male-dominated industry like tech are shifting -- and why it is essential for collective efforts to help bridge the gender gap to maximise the gains of female leadership.

 

Table of contents

  • Embracing authentic female leadership
  • Accelerating female leadership in tech
  • Celebrating female leadership in tech
  • Tips for aspiring female leaders
  • Conclusion

Embracing authentic female leadership

In his book, "The Athena Doctrine," author John Gerzema articulates a universal truth: Control is a mirage. The most effective leaders right now -- men and women -- are those who embrace traits once considered feminine: Empathy. Vulnerability. Humility. Inclusiveness. Generosity. Balance. Patience”. His words were prophetic: in the decade since the book was publsihed, the importance of gender balance in traditionally male-dominated fields have gained significant momentum, with female leaders increasingly embracing their authentic identities and personalities, whilst celebrating feminine traits that bring a fresh perspective to the table. Andrea Kraus, Chief Revenue officer and board member at the Eurofiber Group and member of the RightBrains platform, has witnessed this gradual transition over the course of her career. She used to be the only woman in the boardroom and she felt she needed to alter her appearance and mannerisms to be taken seriously, but today she feels confident in the skills female leaders can bring to that said boardroom table. Women can be more diplomatic and more emphatic listeners. “These skills, which are generally held as feminine and female leadership traits, are critical in the modern workplace and lead to increased profitability.”

Accelerating female leadership in tech

According to a report by Deloitte Global, women in tech are gaining ground as large players in the industry make slow but steady progress in shrinking its gender gap -- and women in tech leadership are making the fastest advances. In the Netherlands, however, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender balance in the tech sector despite the significant amount of female-led companies in the fields of fintech, education and healthcare technology, agritech, and AI. In a CIO article by contributing writer, Melanie Butcher, she elaborates that only 18% of IT professionals in the Netherlands are female, with only a fraction of that number holding top management roles in tech companies. The Dutch government hopes to raise that number to 50% by 2030. To accelerate this effort, companies should be driving internal efforts and embracing partnership opportunities with female networks and female mentoring programmes, including programmes like the RightBrains Growth and Mentor Programme. 

Celebrating female leaders in tech

Recognising the achievements of female leaders can inspire and empower women to aspire to leadership roles; celebratory events, stories, and acknowledgments help build confidence and self-belief in women. Whats more, industry awards honouring female leadership in tech create visibility for female leaders and can be a powerful vehicle for creating awareness. Karen Pesse, celebrated keynote speaker and a thought leader on gender perspectives in technology, agrees: Im firm in the belief that we need to celebrate people to help prevent burnout.” The increasing number of award initiatives over the last few years, including the Women in Tech Europe Awards, the RightBrains Awards, and the Diane Bevelander prize is a promising indication that female leadership in tech is no longer a novelty.

Tips for aspiring female leaders

For aspiring female leaders in the European tech industry, developing skills and expertise is paramount. Continuous learning and staying abreast of industry trends are essential for career growth – and programmes like the RightBrains Digital Leadership Programme can support aspiring digital leaders. Building a strong professional network, including mentorship relationships, can provide invaluable guidance and support, since overcoming challenges requires resilience, perseverance, and a commitment to breaking barriers. Andrea Kraus offers some advice to career starters with eventual leadership ambitions: Never make the coffee. Say you cannot make the coffee.” Her advice touches on an important point: women should not underestimate or undervalue the skills they can bring as a career starter or a member of the board.

Conclusion

The evolution of female leadership in the European tech industry reflects a transformative shift marked by the recognition of diverse leadership styles. By embracing authentic traits traditionally considered feminine, the sector is witnessing a positive growth in female leadership, despite challenges in achieving gender equality, particularly in regions like the Netherlands. Celebrating achievements through awards and events is not merely symbolic, but plays a pivotal role in inspiring the next generation. Aspiring female leaders are encouraged to prioritise continuous learning, network building, and participation in supportive programs. This movement towards inclusivity and innovation signifies not just a trend but a dynamic force shaping the future of the European tech industry.

By Carine du Pisanie

Carine du Pisanie is the Content Manager and Editor at RightBrains and has a keen interest in organizational culture and creativity in the tech sector and beyond.

Carine du Pisanie is the Content Manager and Editor at RightBrains and has a keen interest in organisational culture and creativity in the tech sector and beyond.