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April 27, 2020 Growth Enablement

The Tipping Gender Scales in Technology: An Observation

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By Kellie Jacobs

My first software conference was terrifying. At 25 years old, I had just begun working at BrainSell and had very little clue about the tech industry. I was sent to Washington D.C. to attend one of our biggest vendor’s annual conference as the sole representative of BrainSell for a week, to network with other VARs, vendors, and potential customers. I was determined to prove myself as a tech-savvy sales and marketing maven, ignoring the fact that before working at BrainSell, I was an interior designer.

Sensing fresh blood, some of the experienced tech VARs and resellers took me under their wing, providing advice on how to survive the grueling week-long conference. Most importantly, they told me whom to avoid if I wished to remain “unfondled,” after so-and-so’s had a few too many drinks.

In every scenario where I found myself amid these formidable sales and marketing titans, my guardians were always women. It was immediately apparent that this small group of people, these women ranging in age from 30 to 60, had seen it all, and wanted to protect me from the worst they’d experienced. When they were my age, if they didn’t play the game, they were on the bench – passed over for opportunities as was befitting a workforce heavily entrenched in sexual harassment that went consistently unreported.  

Now, almost ten years later, some of my original flock are still in the industry. We meet for a few moments when we can, but mainly we talk about how much things have changed in such a short time. My female coworkers have mirrored this in their own experience as well. All of us have noticed a significant uptick in the female presence at trade shows, and many executives at our top vendors are women.  

According to BrainSell President, Sonja Fridell, “Nearly 11 years ago, when I started at BrainSell, I was a very distinct minority at the software conference I attended. Now, women are well represented at ERP and CRM conferences. It’s not 50-50, but we’re slowly changing the face of those companies. I’ve been extremely lucky to be surrounded by encouraging leadership at BrainSell, who encourages my advancement in the company and space. These tech companies are thriving and changing for the better with the addition of female leadership.”  

It’s not just limited to our bubble here in Topsfield, either. In her blog titled The State of Women in Tech,” Kasee Bailey writes that companies led by women have historically performed three times better than those with male CEOs. Yet companies like Google still only have a 30% female workforce.  

With women making up most tech users in western countries, why is there still such a low number of women in the industry? For starters, there’s the wage gap. According to a 2017 article by TechCrunch, men in Silicon Valley make 61% more than their female counterparts, and women who work in computer and mathematical fields make 80 cents to the dollar that men earn doing the same job. Other factors like sexual harassment and lack of support for family planning, breastfeeding, and pregnancy have created a toxic atmosphere. So, if a woman is uncomfortable asking for the salary they want, why would they insist on equality when it comes to better options and treatment when it comes to their personal life and reproduction?  

Thankfully, times are, in fact, a changin‘. As with any revolution, beginnings are small and slow, but as more companies like BrainSell emerge and as our larger counterparts become more and more inclusive and focused on equality, things will only get better. The improvements aren’t just financial, either. More women in tech will lead to more women in positions of power in tech who will then continue the trend on its upward tick. Young women are now looking to the Jen Rubios and Sara Blakelys as sources of inspiration instead of celebrities who are doing little to benefit the rest of society. Positive reinforcement is based more on merit and accomplishment than looks or having the right boyfriend/husband.  

My work life would have taken a much different path, were it not for the support of BrainSell‘s leader Jim Ward. Since day one, Jim Ward has been vocal about his support for women in tech, which is something he practices as much as he preaches. Currently, BrainSell‘s leadership is 80% female, covering positions of COO, President, VP of Marketing, and VP of Customer Success, and our growth is not slowing. I count myself lucky to be part of a team that is already years ahead of corporations hitting the likes of Fortune 500 Magazine and Forbes lists. We have mutual respect, recognition, strong female role models, and equality–four traits infinitely more valuable than a bottom line. 

Author Bio

Kellie Pitt

Kellie Pitt joined BrainSell in 2011 to help run daily operations. As a result of her dedication to providing high-quality customer service to her clients, Kellie was then appointed to lead the strategy and development of BrainSell’s Customer Success Team.

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