Dimension Data’s Lauren Wortmann: Women in tech need more support and guidance

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Can you share your journey with us and what inspired you to pursue a career in this industry?

Lauren Wortmann, Vice President, Applications and Cloud at Dimension Data
Lauren Wortmann, Vice President, Applications and Cloud at Dimension Data

I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to “go into tech” it was just something that happened. Growing up my mom ran a marketing company which was focused on the IT industry, I spent my holidays helping her and being exposed to technology and the industry from a young age. When I completed university, I landed up in marketing for an international tech company and I loved it. The constant change and innovation in this industry meant that I was always learning something new. I am a naturally curious person and being in IT means that there is always something new happening. Change is the only constant, and that pace and variety really stimulates me, so here I am 15 years later, and I will be for many years to come.

 

What challenges have you faced as a woman in IT?

It’s been a really fulfilling journey. It has not always been smooth sailing, but I have tried to look at each challenge as an opportunity for learning and growth. Some of my toughest roles have been the most formative in terms of defining the path I have taken. When I look back, some of the standout lessons of my journey have been:

  • It has been key to have a strong support and sponsorship base around me and within the organization. I have tried to surround myself with people that push me to do more than I ever imagined I could.
  • Mindset is everything. People underestimate how infectious a positive outlook and attitude can be.
  • Your team is everything. Building trust and candor with your team is critical as they are the people with you on your journey and you on theirs.
  • Be curious and always be learning – in tech if you lack this, it is hard to excel.

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has not always been easy. There are more times that I can count when I have been the only woman at the table and have had to battle with my own self-doubt about my ability, but that is something I believe every woman needs to own and find their style and way of working in tech.

As all working moms face, there is a massive juggling act between our personal and professional life, but what I have realized is that there is not one perfect way to do it. I believe that being a working Mom shows my sons that women have a place in tech and can “have it all” – this is what will help break down barriers for future women in business. I try to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to my personal life.

 What unique contributions do women bring to the IT field?

 I don’t think it is just in technology, but across professional fields – women are bringing something different to the table. Diversity is so important for organizational success in the communities we operate in. I am a firm believer that as a woman we have a responsibility to coach and mentor other young women in our organizations as well as take the time to do the same for young men in the field. I don’t believe that gender is the key factor in having a powerful coach, sponsor, or mentor – chemistry and respect are.

However, the reality is that there are just not enough women in tech. Too many of the women in this field are in HR and marketing or “back office” roles than the deep technical or business management roles. This needs to change but it starts in our homes, our schools, and universities. We need to expose the younger generation to the possibilities of technology; we need more women in STEM, and we need to create workplace experience for these women.

Nothing will change if we assume someone else will change it – one of my favorite quotes that supports this is “If not us then who, if not now than when?” I apply that mindset often.

 How can the tech industry better support and encourage gender diversity and inclusion?

There are many things that can be done at various levels and stages. We need to encourage young women to explore, experiment, and create with technology, and to show them the possibilities and opportunities that technology offers.

Second, we need to provide women in technology with more support, guidance, and recognition, and to create a culture of inclusion, respect, and collaboration in the tech industry. We need to address the barriers and challenges that women in technology face, such as bias, harassment, and burnout, and to create spaces for them to thrive.

We need to amplify the voices, stories, and achievements of women in technology and to celebrate their contributions and impact. We must show young women what is possible and show them that there are other women who have and are paving the way for them. We need to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for more diversity, representation, and leadership of women in technology.

But most of all, we need to show women that they deserve a seat at the table not because they are women but because of their talents, their differences and capability.

 

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