Search venues...

Hero image
Diversity & Inclusion

International Women's Day: What Does DigitALL Mean In Events?

This year, the UN's theme for International Women's Day is 'DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality'. Gender disparity in technology roles is a major issue throughout all industries, and events are no exception. From event production to virtual events, website building, and more, there are a vast array of event technology roles where women are largely underrepresented.

Ahead of International Women's Day 2023, we sat down with Gemma Edgar of Women in Tech to ask why tech roles across all industries are still largely male-dominated, and what the events industry can do to promote and support women working in tech roles.

And to champion those who are already blazing the trail in the events industry, we're shining a spotlight on 6 women in tech roles in events who should be on your radar! Read on to see their journeys in event tech careers, and to get their advice for others looking to get into these roles.

Women are still largely underrepresented in tech

Despite a lot of progress having been made to close the gender gap in tech, women are very much still outnumbered. According to a recent survey, while women make up 47% of the global workforce, just 26% of people working in technology are women.

Here, Gemma speaks about the causes of this situation, and how we can work to improve it.

What are the challenges for women looking to get into tech roles?

One factor is the lack of progression. Women currently hold 32% of entry-level computer science jobs but only 10% of CEO or senior leadership roles. This is a huge barrier as women can’t see role models that they can look up and relate to, leaving a feeling of demotivation and not belonging.

Company culture also has an impact – in our recent Women in Tech survey, we found that a staggering 76% of women have experienced gender bias or discrimination whilst working in a tech role. Until a huge shift in culture happens, women are going to continue to feel unwelcome and undervalued [in these roles].

Thankfully, we’re heading in the right direction. Every year progress is made to raise the profile of opportunities for women to thrive in tech careers. In WiT's recent survey, 61% of people also said that their organisation is actively trying to increase gender diversity in their tech teams.

woman demonstrating equation on whiteboard

What is your advice to women looking to get into tech roles in events?

If you’re looking to get into a role based around technology, there are many routes you can explore to get to your dream job. Training is key, and there are so many amazing courses available out there. Consider what soft skills you already possess and find out which tech roles look for these skills. For example, if you’re a great problem solver, then software development [such as for event apps],  might be for you. Or, if you’re a born leader with great communication skills, project management could be a good option.

How can we support women to take on tech roles in events?

There are so many ways we can all help to support women in tech. A huge part of the problem is awareness, but by shouting about and celebrating the achievements of women in tech roles, more people will be aware of the imbalance and want to address it. Global days of recognition such as International Women’s Day really help, as well as awards and case studies.

Building communities of women in tech is key. Mentorship is a great way of supporting women in tech as it can encourage experiences to be shared and problems to be heard and solved. Check out the experiences of women working in event tech roles below for an introduction to a brilliant, growing community.

women in technology

Celebrating women in tech roles in events

On that note, it's high time we shone a light on some of the women leading the way in tech roles in our industry. Here, five women with diverse careers in event tech have shared their journeys and advice for women looking to break into tech roles in events.

Ankita Arora

Ankita is the Senior Product Manager of Hubilo, overseeing the development of the company's event platform products.

How did you get into working in tech in events?

Being educated as an engineer, I've been involved in the technology industry throughout my career. Beginning as a software developer, progressing to co-founder and currently a Product Manager, my passion has always been to solve problems for customers and develop products that can simplify their lives in some way.

Two years ago, I ventured into the events industry and have since been educating myself on the difficulties associated with event organising and planning. I am enthusiastic about creating improved solutions for event organisers that can gradually alleviate the multitude of responsibilities they handle.

What's your advice to women looking to get into tech roles in events?

Join networks and seek guidance from senior women mentors to benefit from their knowledge and experience. It's essential to take the initiative to seek knowledge and learn from women outside your own organisations - events are all about making connections, after all. Event tech also presents numerous challenges that are still unsolved. This provides a promising opportunity to develop innovative solutions and leverage technological advancements including AI and Data Science.

Ewelina Dunkley

Ewelina is the Events Lead (Tech) for Meta, working to curate the technical side of event production for the company's global events.

How did you get into working in tech in events?

I’ve worked in all aspects of the industry and in 2016 I made the move over to the world of tech, joining Meta as Site Event Team Lead for the Community, Culture and Engagement Team. I also became an integral member of the Women@ EMEA steering committee, defining strategy, advocacy, and enablement for Meta Resources Group engagement.

How can the events industry support women in these roles and help more women into tech?

The next step is to build diverse teams, which means hiring women from all different backgrounds, and also creating a workplace where they can thrive. It’s not just about checking a box or bringing a “token” woman on board; all hiring should be carried out with the same thoughtfulness and care. My personal journey was initially difficult: no one gave me the chance except for one female manager. If I hadn’t persevered and knocked on different doors for that opportunity, no one would have given it to me.

“If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.”

Stephanie Jayko, Live Event Production Specialist

Stephanie is an executive event producer with a focus on using tech to create and shape event experiences.

How did you get into working in tech in events?

I started my career in live theater as a Stage Manager and Production Coordinator. Over the years I learned that the most exciting part of my job was tech week, when all of the pieces came together and we would problem solve for all of the challenges in order to make the show perfect. I moved from theatre to live events in the same type of role, but I was getting to be in “tech week” every day! Now, as an executive producer, I still have pieces of that in my role, but have added creative and strategy into the mix as well.

How have attitudes towards women in event tech changed?

It was hard to be a women in production tech when I was coming up in the industry. It was a very male dominated field and the perception was that a young woman wasn’t really capable of doing the job. It has gotten better over the years with more opportunities opening up for women to step into and with gender norms changing, but it’s still not a walk in the park. My advice to those women just coming into this space is to ask for what you need, and stand strong in what you know.

Vanessa Lovatt

Vanessa is an established digital media professional with over a decade of experience in events, webinars and digital events.

How did you get into working in tech in events?

I started out as a Conference Producer in the commercial conferencing world, where I was responsible for analysing who was buying what solutions (and why). Without realising it, I had become a regular tech user and buyer, and I eventually became Managing Director of a digital media business which depended on great tech.

I was always fascinated by additional tools that might enhance the experience of an attendee to a digital event and when the pandemic hit, I realised I could help tech vendors to better understand the event professionals who needed digital support on their events.

"I’m not a software person, but I can learn enough to be dangerous!" Vanessa Lovatt

How can the events industry support women in these roles and help more women into tech?

The ‘elders’ of the event sector have a responsibility to open doors to team members who may be interested in learning more about the software engineering side of event tech. You don’t need to be a software engineer to succeed in tech, but being educated, familiar and comfortable with the foundational levels will only help to improve the number of women who move up the tech sector ranks.

The event industry also has some excellent ‘women in’ associations and communities, such as ‘Women in Exhibitions’ and ‘Women in Event Tech’. Increasing the profile of these groups will help but, in my opinion, a crucial next step is to have male advocates promoting and participating in these groups. If we are truly passionate about furthering the prospects of women in the tech, and event tech, sectors then this movement requires action from women, action from men, and action together.

Havina Sirohia

Havina is the Senior Project Manager of Digital Operations and Event Technology at Informa Markets, and a winner of the Exhibition News 30UnderThirty awards in 2023.

How did you get into working in tech in events?

I started my career in events in 2017 and at that time we could have never known the shift to a heavy tech focus that would be coming in 2020. Our industry had to pivot to new and innovative tech solutions for our customers. I worked on the shift from our virtual events programme to our new and continuing Smart Events strategy which has created new and exciting opportunities for tech professionals in our industry.  

What's your advice to women looking to get into tech roles in events?

My advice to women who would like to explore tech roles in events, whether you have a tech background or a more traditional event organiser background is to lean into your strengths and always keep the customer journey and experience as the focus. I would encourage women to seek and maintain mentors, networks and relationships- the women that I am lucky enough to call my friends in the industry have been my greatest allies and advocates. And never be afraid to advocate for what you need from your peers and managers! Communication is key.

Dahlia El Gazzar

A self-described "lead ruckus maker for women in event tech", Dalia is an absolute dynamo in the events industry. From heading up the hugely successful DAHLIA+ Agency, which she founded in 2012 to keeping her networks and clients up to date with event tech trends, she's a big name in event tech. Even better, she uses her platform to share tips and advice for other women in events, particularly in the field of tech, which makes her an excellent role model and support for others in the industry.

We recommend following her on LinkedIn for really interesting insights around events, tech, and championing women in both.


Planning on marking International Women's Day with your team this year? Have a look at our round-up of fun and educational ideas for celebrating the women in your workforce!

And if your tech spark's been ignited, find out what the future holds for event tech in our round-up of inspirational event technology that's about to revolutionise the way we work, meet, and experience events!

 

Sign up to our mailing list

Stay in the loop with our eventprof community!

Sign me up!

 


Author

Author Jessamy Cowie profile image

Jessamy Cowie

Jessamy channels her passion for sustainability and cultural events into shining a spotlight on innovation and inspiration in the events world, and heading up Hire Space's sustainability committee.

Read more
  • #Diversity&Inclusion
  • #EventTech
  • #Eventprofs
  • All tags...
Hire Space Blog

Diversity & Inclusion

  • Invisible Disabilities: Meeting Hidden Accessibility Needs in Events
  • In Talks With Isaac Harvey: How Can We Make Events More Inclusive?
  • Promoting Inclusion in the Events Industry: In Conversation With Event First Steps
See all 12 posts →
Blog post feature image

Events

7 Corporate Event Trends And Predictions For 2024

From technology to tighter budgets, it's fair to say a lot has changed this year. Here's where we see the events industry heading in 2024, and what you can do to gear up for it!

Author profile image for Gemma Baker

10 min read

Blog post feature image

Accessibility

Top 8 Tips for Planning Inclusive Events: An Accessibility Guide For Event Organisers

In events, inclusivity isn't just a buzzword - it's a necessity. We've worked with some of the leaders in the events industry on guidance for making events accessible: here's a comprehensive guide to help make sure every event you plan is inclusive!

Author profile image for Jessamy Cowie
Author profile image for Meg Strahle
Author profile image for Jade Fletcher
Author profile image for Lizzy Eaton
Author profile image for Isaac Harvey MBE
Author profile image for Priya Narain
Author profile image for Helen Moon
Author profile image for Gabrielle Austen-Browne

7 min read