Most IT roles are occupied by males. Advocates for women in IT are essential as they help promote a more diverse, equitable tech sphere.
Yvette McEnearney, senior director, APAC channel, at GoTo, is leading the way in advocacy for women for the entire IT community in Australia, where just 29% of the tech workforce is female. She chooses to put her energy and time into championing women in tech because she knows that without the support and mentorship that she received herself, she wouldn’t have the career she has today.
More than anything, McEnearney finds fulfillment in encouraging, enabling and mentoring women in tech. She revels in the growth she observes in her mentees and roots them on as they break through challenging barriers. She recognizes that the growth of the IT industry at large is dependent upon building the upcoming generation of women in technology and takes her role seriously.
By investing in the success of women in tech, McEnearney is helping create permanent inroads to IT for women who want to make a difference in the technology sector. Simultaneously, she’s promoting better business outcomes and higher levels of innovation in IT.
McEnearney recently received CompTIA’s ANZ Advancing Women in Technology Leadership Spotlight Award for her contributions to women in tech at the community and national level. Below she discusses the “why” behind her advocacy of women in tech, the challenges inherent to it and how she’s working with CompTIA specifically to raise awareness of women in IT.
Why is it important to you to help advance women in technology?
Having firsthand experience in navigating the challenges of a male-dominated industry, I recognize the importance of mentorship and support, especially for underrepresented demographics. My own success would not have been possible without the guidance of both male and female mentors and the determination to overcome various obstacles.
Personally, I have found mentoring, encouraging and enabling women in tech an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. Witnessing the growth and achievements of talented women as they overcome challenges and succeed in their careers is inspiring. Moreover, fostering the next generation of women leaders is essential for sustained progress. To empower women to pursue careers in technology with confidence contributes to a positive cycle where increased representation at all levels of the industry becomes the norm rather than the exception.
I’m passionate about creating a future where women have a seat at the table and occupy leadership positions, shaping the direction of the industry and inspiring generations to come. Furthermore, research demonstrates that diversity is a catalyst for innovation and improved business outcomes. By addressing the existing gender gap, we can harness the full potential of the talents within the technology industry and drive substantial progress.
What challenges and trends around advancing women in technology do you think deserve more attention and awareness?
One significant challenge is the lack of visible female role models within the tech industry. At GoTo, we buck the trend with 70% of our APAC leadership team being female, but this is an anomaly and I recognize that not all companies have this level of female representation in leadership roles.
There needs to be greater impetus to highlight successful women in various technology roles to inspire others and broaden the perception of tech careers. Tech is often associated with engineering, developers, analysts or other highly technical roles, so it is important to demonstrate there are many facets to the tech ecosystem to attract a more varied talent pool that includes women with different skill sets and backgrounds.
Additionally, addressing the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions is essential. While progress has been made in some organizations, we still have a long way to go in the technology industry. Addressing this gap requires targeted efforts to identify and nurture female talent, providing them with the training, support and opportunities necessary to assume leadership positions.
How are you working with CompTIA to help address those issues and promote that awareness?
I have supported CompTIA since its launch in the ANZ market. As a dedicated member, I actively contribute to addressing the challenges faced by women in technology and promoting awareness within the industry. I offer my expertise as a mentor to individuals in the field, giving guidance and support.
Additionally, I play a crucial role in providing feedback to the committee, sharing insights from our partners and broader ecosystem. By actively listening to colleagues, partners, distributors and vendors, I help provide insights on what training programs and information would be useful to the industry. This collaborative approach ensures that the organisation delivers relevant resources and networking opportunities to growth, expands our talent pool within the tech industry and fosters a more inclusive environment for women.
What are you most proud of in your career and what’s helped you get to where you are now?
I am incredibly proud of the relationships I've built and the ecosystem I've cultivated within the industry. These connections have been instrumental in my career, and I value them deeply. My approach, grounded in integrity, effective communication and advocacy, has allowed me to nurture these relationships. Witnessing the success of those I've mentored is immensely rewarding, reinforcing the value of my efforts.
My own journey has been significantly shaped by the mentors I have had and continue to collaborate with, both male and female. Their unwavering support and guidance have moulded me into the leader I am today, where progress starts with self-reflection and a continuous drive to innovate and push boundaries.
I am profoundly humbled to have received the CompTIA ANZ Advancing Women in Technology Leadership Award. This recognition serves as a testament to the collective efforts and support from mentors, peers and the industry, inspiring me to continue advocating for positive change and mentorship within the tech community.
What advice do you have for MSPs and other tech businesses around helping women advance in technology?
First and foremost, I encourage all businesses to recognize that representation matters. Whilst hiring based on merit is crucial, it's equally important to ensure that workplaces support diversity and inclusion. This can be achieved by establishing employee resource groups where staff, regardless of gender, can advocate for themselves and seek out mentorship. Additionally, it’s important to address any potential pay or hiring gaps, ensuring equity across the board. Flexibility may be an overused word but is key to attracting and retaining a broader talent pool where individuals define the space they need to balance work and personal life.
It is important to stretch and educate yourself outside of your comfort zone by challenging the status quo. Surround yourself with inspirational people and keep raising your own personal bar.
If internal resources are constrained, I would encourage businesses to consider third-party sponsorship of professional communities. There are numerous external organisations that can provide valuable and objective support, mentorship and opportunities. Leverage the strong relationships you have with vendors, customers and associated partners by listening to how they are growing in this area. By fostering a supportive environment, we can empower women in technology, enabling them to thrive and contribute meaningfully to their organization.
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