From girls in STEM to women in leadership

Mar 07, 2023
Leadership Thought Leadership

This is Part 1 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.

In 2022, I led a discussion at a subgroup meeting with the CMA’s Martech Council, which focused on the importance of elevating and supporting women in marketing technology. A number of themes were addressed, and some highlights are below which are particularly fitting as we approach International Women’s Day: 

  • There is a strong need to support women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The percentage of women studying science fields in school has dropped significantly since 1985. Early engagement is essential. 
  • Women who are graduating from STEM programs are feeling stuck in math and science, without having an understanding of the opportunities available in marketing, and in martech specifically.
  • Marketing could be the second ‘M’ in STEM, particularly as it relates to data science. 
  • Reskilling is a major gap in martech, and could be improved with more training and education.
  • There is a tension between generalization and specialization. There is pressure out of school to specialize, however there’s a greater need for full-stack marketers. 
  • Employers are looking for both soft and hard skills, particularly those that are transferrable and allow individuals to move from tech to marketing to digital.
  • Tools for marketers need to be self-explanatory in a way that doesn’t require coding knowledge, but an understanding of how to use the tools themselves. 
  • High-level strategic skills are essential, such as data-driven decision making, synthesizing, and architecting solutions. 
  • Developing staff is important. This is less about tools and more about understanding the context of solutions.
  • “You need to see it to be it.” Women need to see other women in these roles. Some companies are championing their female employees to further recruit and retain women in martech.
  • There is a direct relationship between organizational intelligence and the number of women in an organization, due to the high value that women often place in strengthening relationships. However, many women feel unheard. 
  • High emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical focus for business and career success. In the past, IQ mattered more in the tech world, while EQ was more important in marketing communications. However, the two concepts depend on each other. You need to instill confidence in women to focus on both.
  • To support change, it’s important to recognize and address bias, both conscious and unconscious.  

One of the major takeaways from this discussion is that there is a need to support women in martech, both in junior and mid-level ranks. This is in fact, a topic that resonates with our CMA members. 

Below are some statistics about women in technology, gathered from

  • Women make up 47 per cent of the total workforce, according to Randstad. In Canada, “women make up less than 25 per cent of people employed in STEM careers. According to Statistics Canada, 34 per cent of Canadians with a STEM degree are women. They make up only 23 per cent of Canadians working in science and technology.”
    • Early STEM education matters among kids aged 11 to 17. There is natural interest at this stage.
  • Randstad also found that “girls are more likely to score higher on reading tests than their male counterparts,” and they score about equal on science. According to a study from Statistics Canada, “both girls and boys in Canada score above the OECD average in all areas. So, intellectually, there is no reason women in Canada aren’t capable of a high level of achievement in STEM fields. Yet, girls with strong mathematical ability remain less likely to pursue careers in STEM. This highlights the imbalance in careers girls and boys are encouraged to pursue.”
    • As of 2019, 54 per cent of Canadians had completed some level of post-secondary education, and it was women taking the lead. At the time, it was noted that “58 per cent of degrees or post-secondary diplomas earned in Canada are obtained by women.” 

Further, a new global study from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) and Chief, found that “increased attention on women in the workplace has had a halo effect on gender equity.” Since 2021, a larger number of organizations have put initiatives in place that are specifically geared towards women’s advancement.

  • More organizations have established formal networking groups for women: 61 per cent today, compared to 46 per cent two years ago.
  • More businesses are now offering career development planning for women: 78 per cent today, versus 56 per cent in 2021.
  • More organizations today require managers to complete diversity training, which includes topics on gender: 65 per cent, compared to 52 per cent and 28 per cent in 2021 and 2019.

Watch out for Part 2, which will build on the discussion and dive deeper into the skills and talent gap.

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Lidia Feraco

Professor, School of Business, Conestoga College




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