International Women’s Day 2020 – The challenges of working in EdTech

Posted on March 6th, 2020

In the run up to International Women’s Day, I’ve been talking to some of the women on our team about their experiences at Cognassist and in the EdTech sector as a whole. Particularly important in a male-dominated technology industry where women still tend to be under-represented: but where women are making a difference.

Despite success stories like EdTech’s first ever unicorn (Lynda) being founded by a woman, it’s true for the most part, that life as a working woman in technology is still challenging. A small percentage of women are studying STEM subjects and women are still under-represented in the technology sphere. Most of Cognassist’s female staff say that they think there are specific issues for women in the industry. As Dr. Jacqui Lee, Cognassist’s Salesforce expert says: ‘As women we all know about trying to ‘level the playing field’ when it comes to competing for opportunities or gaining access to careers.‘

Kim Scott, Cognassist’s Finance Manager, comments that the technology industry as a whole ‘seems to lack senior women as leaders and decision makers’. This is supported by the latest figures from the UK Parliament which show that only 17% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK with employees were led by women in 2015.

For Joanne Thompson-Vose, our Accounts Assistant, ‘finding a work/life balance is hard when you have children.’ She feels that in previous jobs she has always had to go the extra mile and work harder to be recognised for the work and commitment she shows. Fiona Waugh, Cognassist’s Software Development Lead, says part-time jobs in software development are rarely advertised and that software teams don’t seem to have the processes to cope with part time staff. An important point since women are more likely than men to be looking for part-time work.

But things are changing. EdTech is a sector that enables its women to use their expertise in an industry that is removing barriers to learning and pushing for equality. And an increasing number of women are taking leading roles. Jacqui ‘feels good about working in the sector’. And other female staff at Cognassist are happy to be working in an industry that is focused on building inclusivity and equality through increasing understanding of cognition.

As Joanne says ‘Since entering the industry 3 years ago I have seen it slowly change from a very male dominated environment to a much more even male/female balance, with many females now filling managerial roles.’

Dr. Louise Karwowski, Cognassist’s recently appointed Head of Science and a neurodiversity expert also comments that: ‘True inclusivity is about helping everyone achieve the best they can and this will be achieved through communication, understanding and breaking down the barriers that stand in the way….whether this is gender, age or cognition.’ She also says that she feels, ‘… fortunate to work for a company that values people’s merit rather than gender. I have experienced challenges in several previous roles, with being given significantly less of a platform compared to male colleagues and having a constant battle on my hands for the right to be heard.’

As for myself, heading up marketing for Cognassist, the emphasis for this year’s International Women’s Day campaign is ‘an equal world is an enabled world. ‘Which is exactly what Cognassist is all about – forcing change and ensuring barriers to learning and achievement are removed for learners with cognitive learning needs.

How will you help create a more equal world?

Karen Halliday Author: Karen Halliday, Chief Marketing Officer, Cognassist.

Posted on March 6th, 2020
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