Female representation in leadership tech roles has been a widely discussed topic over the years and has come under fire for its lack of gender diversity. In the last five years, gender representation has improved at entry level - however, women still occupy less leadership positions in tech. We decided to speak to Barbara Vas, Head of QA at Bink to gain an insight on her experience's as a female leader in the World of Tech.
As technology continues to advance further into every aspect of our lives, the challenge to increase the presence of women in the industry is more important that ever. Tech Leaders in the industry are typically responsible for overseeing the development of technology and building the products of the future, and as such, these positions are highly influential and require a diverse representation to reflect this.
A McKinsey report has stated that the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability and other factors, whether that's retaining their employees, cultural representation, and creating an enjoyable working environment.
With the world of tech increasingly recognising and promoting more women into leadership roles, the fight for full gender equality still continues to be crucial so that the future of the industry is an accurate representation of our society. With that in mind, we sat down and spoke to Barbara Vas, Head of Quality Assurance at Bink. Here is what she had to say about her experience working in technology so far:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your position at Bink.
"I started my career in software testing 8 years ago as a Quality Assurance Analyst working on crowd testing platforms, testing mobile applications which I thoroughly enjoyed. When I interviewed at Bink, the first thought that crossed my mind after the interview was that, I would have the opportunity to be bold, make decisions and learn quickly.
I joined Bink in 2016 as QA Engineer as I wanted to work for a start up where job titles didn’t matter and being hands-on is what mattered. Fast forward 6 years and I’m now Head of QA, lead a team of 8 automated test engineers, and am responsible for ensuring quality of the software is never compromised.
As a line manager, I’ve learnt that empathetic listening is a powerful tool that helps me connect with my team members to build a bond of trust to influence and motivate them.
To me, leadership is a form of influence, not authority."
What inspired you to work in the tech industry and your role specifically?
"I think the unlimited possibilities of tech itself is what inspired me. Technology is not just about coming up with cutting edge ideas, it’s also about how these ideas will work in the real world.
Software testing is an area where you have to get a little innovative. The process is never going to be spelt out for you, in fact, it takes a little detective work. By acting as the end user, you’re the one who must think outside the box when contemplating areas where there may be inconsistencies.
As a tester, I have the opportunity to understand how these brilliant applications that make our lives easy are built and what would happen if they weren’t designed to work the way they did."
As a female leader in the tech industry, do you notice a considerable gap between male and female leaders in the industry?
"Yes, I do see a gap in the tech industry in general. To bridge this gap tech company strategies for enhancing gender diversity must include a few basic principles like clear leadership from the top around expanding gender diversity, female tech leaders should play a central role in the push for diversity, and diversity efforts must be comprehensive and integrated fully into the company’s operations and recruitment practices."
Have you experienced any difference in treatment (positive or negative) as a female leader in the tech industry?
"When I started my career in QA, it did not take me long to realise that there was a stereotype that most developers were male and QA’s were female. The message was that I was easily replaceable. There are always more developers than QA professionals on a team, and there are more men than women in Tech. It is easier to agree with the majority than to disagree. My concern at that stage was would I be able to communicate my ideas and influence decision-making? Would they respect my perspective.
When I joined Bink and moved into a leadership role, I found some great mentors both male and female who encouraged me to explain my views confidently. I was made to feel, we as QA's, are valued for how we think. It was here that I realised there are people who do understand a true QA’s mindset is unique. It is our mindset , the way we articulate it that makes us stand out. But we need to communicate more so people will know how we can contribute and respect what we bring to the table too.
Now, when I am invited to a meeting the Dev to QA ratio and male to female ratios are not what my attention is drawn to. Instead, I am engaged in the discussion and expressing my thoughts related to it and that is liberating. Each one of us has the power to break the stereotype, it’s just about taking the first step towards it."
What do you feel the industry can do to attract more female leaders?
"There are many things we can do as a tech industry to attract more women- from flexible working policies to tackling bias in hiring, mentor schemes for women to support career advancement and better parental leave."
What advice would you give to other female leaders wanting to pursue a career in tech?
"Don’t wait for someone to define or recognise your value. Take ownership of your own career path in the tech industry by being clear on what you want for your career in tech and ask for guidance how to get there. Find a mentor who can be honest with you and tell you things you are good at and things you need to work on. If it’s your passion, work hard and go for it."
We would like to extend our thanks to Barbara for sharing her experience and giving an insight into her career as the Head of QA at Bink. As Barbara mentioned, there are definitely more things that the industry can do in order to attract more women and we couldn't agree more with her advice to those considering a career in tech. We hope that our chat with Barbara can be inspiring to other women wanting to head into the world of tech.