Women in marketing technology

Mar 16, 2023
Martech Talent

This is Part 2 of a three-part blog series on the importance of increasing the representation of women in martech, brought to you by the CMA’s Martech Council. This article looks at the skills gap, and the re-training and re-invention of women in martech.

The human implications of martech

As we focus more on data and technology, we must also focus on women in technology. In the marketing industry, skills related to emotional intelligence (EQ) are slightly more desired than IQ. As discovered through a study done by Advanced Symbolics Inc. (ASi) in 2021, big data and coding skills rank second of the top five in-demand skillsets by marketers. Metrics prove that we need more data science.

Source: Advanced Symbolics Inc. (ASi)

This supports the change management bedrock piece that the CMA’s Martech Council has brainstormed in our sessions. As Statistics Canada explains, “many studies have examined the persistent underrepresentation of women in STEM programs among postsecondary graduates.” A concern is that this will lead to martech disparity for women who could be interested in a CMO-type role. What it comes down to is that it’s important for martech to invest in women.

Should marketing become the second ‘M’ in STEM?

One of the key points made during a recent Martech Council discussion, and highlighted in Part 1 of this blog series, is that marketing could be the second ‘M’ in STEM, particularly as it relates to data science.

As Forbes suggested, “it’s time to think of STEM as more than just science, technology, engineering, and math.” It should include marketing to “provide a more well-rounded set of critical skills that gets us closer to solving the problems of tomorrow.”

Part 1 of this series also highlighted some key stats about women in STEM, most notably, that women make up 23 per cent of people employed in science and technology fields in Canada. It is mission-critical for us to elevate women through education. Having women in senior leadership positions could positively impact employee engagement and retention of women.

  • According to Statistics Canada, “among the population with a postsecondary credential in computer and information science who worked in 2020 or 2021, less than one-third (31.5 per cent) of women worked in STEM occupations in mathematics, computer and information science, compared with half (50.1 per cent) of men.” As well, fewer women than men are graduating from STEM fields.

Below are some ideas to consider in order to raise this number:

  • Match programs to usage: Girls tend to use tech to create and learn.
  • Encourage collaboration: Girls thrive in teams and working towards a common goal.
  • Risk opportunities: Girls should be encouraged to take risks, grow from failure, and build confidence.
  • Mentoring and representation: It’s important to see yourself reflected in the role you are aspiring for.
  • Build a voice: We must elevate women’s voices in technology.

Early engagement is critical to help solve the tech skills shortage. Technology companies such as Microsoft are championing programs to further retain and recruit women in tech. They are partnering with various networking groups associated with The WIT Network, such as Girls Who Code. Online learning and e-learning tools have helped parents keep their children engaged and eager to learn at home by providing fun, interactive mathematical activities to apply their learnings and better grasp the subject matter. As a result, the confidence of girls and young women in these subjects will grow, and stay with them as they transition into higher education and make decisions about specializations in STEM. 

An opportunity for growth in marketing departments is to build out teams to support technology implementation. It's not enough just to source the best technology out there to solve your problems. It's the data science, insights, and implications that come from that which truly enable the strategy.

Skills need to be transferrable as we train full-stack marketers. An internal team who can implement, champion and train others on that technology is recommended. When marketers are asked about their internal capabilities and skills, we know this is still a large gap. This is why we see many companies with marketing operations as an umbrella function. Career and personal development, hiring, upskilling and promotions must be deliberate and supported by men in the organization.

Furthermore, recent LinkedIn findings show that employers are looking for workers with both soft skills and hard skills. Digital marketing, social media marketing, and corporate communications are listed in the top 25 skills, alongside hard skills like cloud computing, AI, and scientific computing. Many women feel unheard as they’re often interrupted or spoken over,  however if a woman is assertive in order to be heard, it’s typically viewed as being aggressive. Having more leadership training available to women will help to encourage growing confidence and proving self-efficacy in their work. Another interesting finding from ASi is that teamwork is the most sought-after soft skill in the marketing industry.

Source: Advanced Symbolics Inc. (ASi)

Final thoughts

It can be argued that STEM needs a re-brand, and it’s important to pave the path to ‘STEMM’ with marketing being the second ‘M.’ To succeed in the digital world, both technical skills and soft skills are required. It is no longer enough to have a deep technical understanding if you can't communicate effectively – nor can you succeed if you have excellent communication and interpersonal skills but no technical background. Tech literacy needs to become a priority for marketers to grow and further succeed. It's no secret that marketers have a hard time keeping up with technology and the plethora of tech trends and developments that are being made available. Ideally, there needs to be intersectionality between hard and soft skills in order to extract data, analyze insights, and drive strategy. 

Watch out for Part 3, the final blog in this series from the Martech Council, in which a woman working in martech is interviewed.

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Lidia Feraco

Professor, School of Business, Conestoga College





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