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International Women's Day 2021: An Interview with Katie Owston

Posted on March 2021

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This year's International's Women's Day theme #ChooseToChallenge represents the idea of challenging norms related to gender equality to create change. At Glocomms, we choose to challenge and promote gender diversity and inclusion.

Katie Owston, Recruitment Consultant - Cyber Security at Glocomms, shares her thoughts on this year's theme, and how she chooses to challenge in her role.

What does the #ChooseToChallenge message mean to you?

When it comes to gender equality, the technology space still has quite a ways to go. #ChooseToChallenge for me embodies the pursuit of upward professional development by women despite the obstacles, and persistence to keep going given the impact those efforts will have for all women in tech long-term.

What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with your clients in your role? Has Covid-19 had an impact on gender equality?

About 35% of employees at big-name companies like Amazon, Facebook or Google are female, but far fewer have computer science or software-engineering-based positions industry-wide. There is a perpetual cycle then, in terms of seeking the same type of person who will "get the job done right", and often a woman doesn't fit that biased profile. I often talk to clients and candidates about the role women play in more senior positions too - while men may take a more technical path long-term, women tend to go down the route of policy, governance and compliance or project/program management. I believe if women exposed to more engineering-based positions from the get-go, a whole new wave of change for the better in technology would follow suit. Unfortunately, Covid-19 appears to have somewhat impacted gender equality due in large part to mothers feeling no other choice than to take care of their children while working from home, even if their "professional job" suffers in the process.

What role can recruiters play in challenging norms and creating change?

Recruiters have the ability to plant (and grow) seeds of change... with both candidates and clients alike, as trusted partners. Making introductions for women who felt under-qualified without an advocate, or who didn't know a position was available are just two examples of using our position for the better. A lot of companies want to be more balanced in terms of gender equality, and we have the ability to re-align hiring efforts in a positive way on the path towards systemic change long-term.

What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

Think outside the box! Seek diversity-based professional organizations or groups (not actual companies), and look through their respective members who also have full-time jobs in your industry. Set up introductory phone calls and in turn, expand your network with people that would otherwise not be found, being outside your standard recruitment / hiring process. I'd also suggest formalizing the diverse hiring strategy with goals.

As a female leader, what advice would you give to other aspiring leaders in overcoming potential gender biases and achieving career success?

Know your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses as growth opportunities, and exude a confidence that proves the value you bring as a future leader. The less you identify with gender bias', the more focus there is on your abilities, work ethic, and all-around capabilities!

About Katie Owston

Katie is a Recruitment Consultant on the Cyber Security Team at Glocomms, and has been with the team since July 2020. Born and raised in Colorado, She has been living in NYC for the last 9 years. Katie is happy to be supporting the future of women in tech!

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