The numbers are telling. Women make up only about a quarter of the technology sector workforce. Their quitting rate is twice that of their male counterparts. In addition, according to the World Economic Forum, they comprise less than a third of the workforce in manufacturing. The inequities start early. Only 30 percent of all female students select science and engineering (STEM)-related fields in higher education.
Despite these challenges, we have been systematically registering incremental progress. For example, in the United States, women still made up only 27 percent of the STEM workforce in 2019. According to the Census Bureau, that was still better than the 8 percent in 1970.
Concrete and tangible steps, like pay transparency, are paving the way toward equity. Getac talked to women in rugged devices and adjacent industries to record their challenges and successes.
Societal and Organizational Support
Societal support goes a long way in leveling the playing field in all industries. “The key to the success of women is support both inside and outside the company’s walls,” says Margie Pachner, Product Marketer at Gamber-Johnson. Juggling work and study, she has leaned on her company’s benefits to complete an MBA more affordably. “The team and manager are incredibly accommodating and understand my commitments outside the workplace, so attending school has been a non-issue. This type of support gives the opportunity to continue growing in my personal and professional life, preparing me for new responsibilities and leadership opportunities,” Pachner says.
A little education goes a long way, according to Siân Jones, managing director at Rugged Mobile Systems. “I think the support needed is for men in our industry to be taught that women are as passionate, informed, and capable of working in the rugged and consumer computing hardware industry as men,” Jones says.
Indeed a passion for work has shaped a will to overcome challenges. Yilian He, director of marketing and sales at Hon-Tsai Technology, is always up for a challenge. Committed to developing solutions to create a safe workplace, especially in Taiwan, she decided she needed to keep up with the fast-paced industry. She pushed herself to complete a master’s degree in Environment, Health and Safety Engineering. “It was difficult but worth it,” Yilian He says.
Challenges such as Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic tested Jones. She has been keeping close track of changes following the UK’s exit from the European Union. Jones admits it is one of her biggest challenges, especially with suppliers and clients based in the European Union. Jones has found a workaround by engaging with the local Chamber of Commerce, manufacturers, and distributors.
Tania Elias Calles has seen gender inequality play out in another sector, sports. She leads Somos México, an organization that prepares young sailors for international competition. Calles will tell you that sailing needs more women athletes and coaches, but the challenges of the sport, including months away from home amid a grueling schedule and rough seas, test even the most seasoned candidates.
As a woman who wants to break new ground, Calles also understands what processes will take. She uses Getac UX10 for her teams’ training sessions, racing venue analysis, wind data gathering with Easy wind software, video analysis, and data analysis for gameplan and racing strategies.
Registering Impressive Successes
Despite challenges, women in rugged devices and related industries have systematically logged many successes. For example, when faced with a global chip shortage, the mobile devices industry needed to rethink strategy and develop out-of-the-box solutions, says Kari Haser, product marketer at Gamber-Johnson. “It is when critical thinking and the ability to take and learn from constructive feedback helped. Effective communication and setting clear goals and expectations are also important for success, Haser says.
Jones agrees about the role of effective communication in delivering success. “Working from the same page and ensuring we communicate is key. We all want a successful company that can ride the uncertain times we’re doing business in. Clear and honest communication with our clients about the rugged hardware we provide is also very important, especially regarding developing ongoing, positive relationships,” Jones says.
Harriette Wysocki has used teamwork to deliver success despite the large weight on her shoulders. She is responsible for managing Jarltech Europe’s team and operations within the UK and Ireland. Wysocki also explores where the team can grow the business. A believer in detail, Wysocki pays attention to implementing protocols that ensure the group consistently achieves target growth goals. “Our trust and reliability within the team brings an energetic work environment and can allow you to flourish despite any adverse scenarios that have arisen during the day,” Wysocki says as the reason for success.
For her part, Calles defines success as “having clarity in what you want to achieve and from there execute a plan that can help you become your best version.” Success is “all about a process and satisfaction on the small steps that take you closer to the big dream. There has to be something big at the end of the road, making you shake a little bit and hungry to go after it,” she says.
Advice for Future Generations
These dynamic women are among the many paving a path for future generations. Their advice to those entering the workforce? Wysocki emphasizes balance. Especially over the pandemic, she has paid attention to work-life balance. This allows her to not burn out and put her best foot forward at work. In addition, “believe in your self-worth and speak up–you could be adding a new perspective to a situation so you cannot let a fear of rejection keep you in your comfort zone. Everyone will have an opinion, so as long as you hold your integrity and keep your word, you will be valued,” Wysocki says.
Yilian He is heartened by the steady strides women are making in the workplace. “The rights and interests of women in Taiwan in the workplace, and in all sectors of society have significantly improved compared to a decade ago, thanks to many inspiring women leaders who paved the way for our generation today,” she says, “Similarly, the effort we have made is to create a better environment for the next generation.” She hopes future generations of women will build on these strong foundations.
Pachner’s advice to the next generation of women in the industry: “Don’t be afraid to fail and learn from mistakes. Growth is not always a linear path, so learn from your experiences and those around you and build up others. When your team succeeds, you succeed.”
From all indications, women in the industry and beyond are set to reach higher–and achieve higher. Calles, for example, has goals that are nothing short of ambitious: She wants to see her team qualify for the Olympics in Paris in 2024. She likewise aims to bring home a medal from the Los Angeles edition of the Olympics in 2024.
Read more of their stories here.