Celebrating Women in Leadership Roles in the Tech Industry
The technology industry, specifically, has been continuing to close the gender gap.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
Today’s organizations recognize that a diverse workforce based on gender, race, age, and other factors is good for business. Diverse teams perform better and are more innovative. The technology industry, specifically, has been continuing to close the gender gap. Deloitte Global predicts that large global technology firms, on average, will reach nearly 33 percent overall female representation in their workforces in 2022, up slightly more than two percentage points from 2019. The proportion of women in other industry roles will also presumably nudge up as well.
Parul Bharadwaj, a seasoned technology professional based in Seattle, WA, who has worked with tech giants such as Amazon and DoorDash Inc., says she is very encouraged by opportunities that lie ahead for women as technology companies continue to renew their commitment to advancing gender diversity. Currently employed as a senior technical program manager at DoorDash, Bharadwaj leads engineering-wide initiatives such as data infrastructure, real-time streaming, rollouts, experimentation, analytics, data compliance, and governance. She said she finds inspiration at DoorDash, where female leaders such as Liangxiao Zhu, vice president of engineering; Sophia Vicent, senior director of engineering operations; Avani Nanavati, technical product director; and Varsha Dudani, director of engineering, display the potential for women to hold key decision-making positions. “I commend DoorDash for its efforts to expand women’s roles,” Bharadwaj said. “When hiring for leadership positions, research shows that the percentage of female candidates with required experience is low, but DoorDash is tactically addressing this problem by hiring women in management, thereby giving women the opportunity to gain experience today to lead as executives tomorrow.”
Setting New Standards
A report by McKinsey & Company suggests that companies with a diverse workforce are more likely to have higher financial returns. Apple Inc.’s latest diversity report reflects that hiring a more inclusive workforce across different areas is important. Bharadwaj says she is optimistic about change with these types of trends and notes that there are also prime examples of women who have succeeded in the industry outside of her company who continue to inspire her to remain passionate about her work. Some notable names include:
- Susan Diane Wojcicki, chief executive officer (CEO) of YouTube. A Polish-American business executive who has more than 20 years in the tech industry.
- Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization based in New York, NY, that aims to support and increase the number of women working in the computer science field. In 2010, Saujani became the first Indian-American woman to run for U.S. Congress.
- Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail at Apple. Named to Fortune’s list of the world’s most powerful women in business in 2019 and appeared on the Fast Company Queer 50 list in 2021.
As a young girl, Bharadwaj remembers wanting to work in a career that would allow her to transform the future while shaping the present. That passion led her to digital technology. “The possibilities for innovation always seemed infinite,” she says. “It is a field at the forefront of our ever-evolving world. And it was this desire to make an impact, to maintain a competitive edge and to stay relevant that led me to this field.” She continues to see herself as someone who is part of enabling a massive growth of key online platforms that continue to make an impression on a global scale. “This not only gives me the opportunity to keep learning about new tools and technology and deliver better products and services, but also keeps me hungry to explore different ways of solving new problems.”
Despite her accomplishments, when looking back on her career Bharadwaj says she could have chosen to abandon her ambitions at a young age, but she was fortunate enough to receive the right guidance and support from her family to pursue her dreams. Today, she wants to play a leading role in helping other women to achieve heights in their careers. Bharadwaj says she has enjoyed success and suggests that a healthy mindset can go a long way when combined with valued education and industry skills. Suggestions that she hopes other women can practice include:
- Network with peers who share similar experiences, challenges, and solutions.
- Always know your worth based on your education, skills, and experiences.
- Invest in continuing education.
- Evaluate goals frequently.
- Take chances when the timing feels best.
Plans For More Equity
Through diversity training, onboarding, coaching, and mentoring, progress is being made throughout industry as well. According to Bharadwaj, “when you hire a diverse workforce, you must also be sensitive to and be able to recognize differences among those employees. Listening to people who have different life and career experiences reduces the likelihood of falling into group-think patterns.” It's just reality today. Innovative companies must have people at the table with different backgrounds. In this way, organizations harness excellence as they reshape the power structure for a better future for all.
Gene Marrano began his career 30+ years ago in manufacturing where he worked in assembly, quality control, planning and sales engineering. He spent the last 10 years in media as an award-winning radio, print and TV journalist in Roanoke, VA. He is also a freelance writer for numerous publications and newspapers. For additional information, please email email@example.com.