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Women in tech: Top executives explain why addressing bias matters (Includes interview)

File photo: New resources help students learn to code both in and outside of the classroom.
File photo: New resources help students learn to code both in and outside of the classroom.

Changing the gender inequality in technology remains as challenging as it is important. There are some who maintain that without deliberately focusing on women’s representation in programs that prepare people for careers in the technology sector, companies risk replicating the same gender ratios. This means encouraging young women to see technology as a career path and for this role models are needed.

Ahead of International Woman’s Day 2021 (which falls on March 8), two senior women in business have agreed to share their experiences with Digital Journal readers. Both women work for OneSpan and they address a question posed about what it is like for woman working in cybersecurity and technology more generally.

For the first response, we heard from Sharon Lee, who holds the role of Research and Innovation Manager. Lee says that technology has opened an array of career opportunities: “In today’s increasingly interconnected digital world, AI and machine learning has given us the ability to use data in ways that not so long ago would have seemed mind-boggling. Financial institutions can now process enormous sets of data to spot fraud in real-time.”

Yet there is more that technology can do to make things more accommodating for women. With this Lee is very clear in her response: With International Women’s Day in mind, issues remain with these technologies where evidence of bias towards men has previously been seen, particularly when it comes to accessing credit in the financial sector.”

Lee also sees the addressing of bias in artificial intelligence as something of great importance, especially gender bias. Se explains: “To be sure the workings of AI aren’t based on datasets that are influenced by bias and discrimination, there must be an open approach from organisations in this area. Regulation has historically lagged behind when it comes to nascent technology, and the same can be seen with AI. Until such a time that there is an appropriate framework in place, businesses must do all they can to bring transparency to their AI datasets to shape a truly equal future.”

For the second response to the question, Ralitsa Miteva, the Fraud Detection and Prevention Solutions Manager, offers her opinions.

Miteva explains that things are looking better for women in tech: “I have been in the cybersecurity industry for over a decade, during which I have seen the industry experience a radical shift. Women are continuing to forge ahead and fill critical cybersecurity roles like fraud analysts. These women are making their mark by opening doors for the younger generation as they continue to close the gender gap of male-dominated industries.”

Of course there is more to be done, and here Miteva says: “I look forward to the day where a woman will be looked at as an industry expert instead of a “woman in cybersecurity or tech.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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