Women are doing big things in the tech industry! Globally, tech is, in many ways, leading the equality charge, particularly when it comes to getting women on boards. The industry is making real efforts to support jobs for women in tech and women in IT, and help young women figure out ‘what kind of job is right for me’.
Take Lenovo for example; the brand’s Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL) network, is instrumental in ensuring the global technology brand meets its commitments to hiring, retaining, mentoring and promoting women within the company. This initiative has played a huge role in helping Lenovo achieve a thirty percent female workforce, which is miles ahead of the industry average.
To find out more about this exciting initiative, and what it means for the technology industry in South Africa, we spoke to Claire Carter, Lenovo Marketing Director, MEA, and Women In Lenovo Leadership Ambassador. Keep reading to find out more about this inspiring woman in tech and read Claire’s career tips for women aspiring to work in the tech industry in South Africa.
Who is Claire Carter?
Carter has over a decade of experience working for leading international Blue Chip companies with a proven track record of growing brand and business delivery. She has been instrumental in growing the Lenovo brand across the Middle East and Africa which has resulted in Lenovo achieving the number one spot in market share across the Gulf region. As Women in Lenovo Leadership Ambassador for the Middle East and Africa, Claire Carter is in charge of driving women’s empowerment initiatives to enable them to flourish and succeed in the tech workplace.
Since taking on her role as Marketing Director at Lenovo, Carter has proven to be a huge shaker in the industry, especially when it comes to diversifying the tech industry. Carter has been and continues to be a pioneering force for women in the industry, by working closely with Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL) network. Furthermore, Claire Carter has been an advocate for women in the gaming industry, and has assisted in highlighting the various different paths and career options that women can choose from, both on the technical and creative sides of the field.
Career tips for women in tech
WomenStuff: Why would you encourage women to consider roles in the tech industry as a whole?
Claire Carter: I would firstly encourage women to conquer whatever career or profession they want to! But yes, tech has traditionally been a more male-dominated industry, but it has so much to offer women.
Tech is just how we live Vs an industry!
If you just think of what your life would be like now, without technology, I guarantee you wouldn’t be able to get through the day. Tech is just how we live, how we communicate and how we get things done in 2021, and it will continue to be part of our lives in the future. STEM fields are often seen as very technical fields, far removed from people, but this is not the case. STEM is all about people and finding ways to do things smarter, quicker and to do things which seemed impossible. Where would we be during the Covid pandemic without technology, which allowed us to stay connected with loved ones all over the world and to be able to work and learn from home. Technology is all about people and I think women have a natural emotional intelligence which is much needed to connect tech with real life which is where the magic really happens.
Tech is all about flexibility!
Unlike many rigid jobs, which define productivity by sitting behind your desk for official office hours, technology companies offer unrivalled flexibility when it comes to company culture. For example, at Lenovo, being a mom has never been something that has held me back. Lenovo offers a truly agile culture that allows me to thrive in my roles as both a mom and as a Marketing Leader. I am measured by my output and have the flexibility to work from anywhere, as long as I get the job done! Flexibility is one of the key requirements for women in the workplace and having worked for other multinational bluechip companies, I can safely say tech brands lead the way on this, by far!
WS: Do you think women bring a unique perspective to the tech industry?
CC: Both men and women make the tech industry what it is, but yes women do see things through a different lens and this of course brings huge diversity of thought and added value to all brands and industries. There are many studies out there that showcase just how much more efficient gender-balanced teams and companies are. In fact, I believe that diversity in all forms, be it gender, ethnicity, or age, is always beneficial for companies.
Diversity of approach delivers better results and offers any industry a more diverse pool of talent and skills. Women often wear multiple hats and are absolute pros and at multi-tasking. They pick up so many extra things on their to-do lists that technology can play a big role in helping to manage. From school drop-offs, arranging play dates and extramural activities, to doing the grocery shopping, we do it all and technology has played a huge role in providing tools to make all of this smoother and easier. As women do all of this, having them as part of creating tech products and solutions makes complete sense!
At Lenovo, we ensure that women are a part of our product focus panels right from Research and Development phases to ensure we get these insights driving our NPD which only makes our products more relevant to more people. Of course, this is not saying that men are also not a huge part of this process, but I do believe women have a unique role to play.
WS: Do you have any tips for women looking to pursue a career in the tech industry?
CC: To truly succeed, you have to be willing to do the things which others don’t want to do; do more, do it quicker and do it better! Unfortunately, women still have to work harder than men to get to the same place, but we have great inner resources to dig deep and to put in that work.
- Surround yourself with a great team, who have the right attitude and never let your inner voice which often doubt’s your capability to get too much airtime.
- Work hard, be tough but be kind and don’t be scared to show the compassion which comes naturally to us as women.
- And always remember to pay it forward. I have known many leaders throughout my career who have helped shape me into who I am today. I will always remember the impact they’ve had on my journey, and I will always pay that forward to others who I can help along the way. As women we should be helping and supporting each other, not tearing each other down, and sadly I’ve also experienced this throughout my career which is extremely sad to watch.
WS: Obviously, Lenovo is synonymous with gaming. As the industry continues to grow, particularly from an eSports perspective, what is Lenovo doing in this space to help nurture and encourage female gamers and women who aspire to work in the gaming industry?
CC: From a global perspective, Lenovo works with Reach3 Insights to engage women and get real insights and feedback into the issues they’re facing when it comes to gaming. These conversations with women gamers help highlight and evolve ongoing thought leadership from Lenovo in the gaming industry, specifically through our Legion PC gaming brand. More crucially, this work supports our company’s bigger strategic mission of providing “smarter technology for all.”
For example, we recently conducted research across a few key markets globally to understand the experience of women players in the gaming industry and how companies can create a more inclusive space for women gamers. 77% of women responded, dealing with at least some sort of frustration when gaming because of their gender. Judgements of skills (70%), patronising comments (50%) and (44%) receiving unsolicited relationship asks were the most reported types of comments women gamers said they received while gaming online.
In the Middle East we have a platform called Miss Eports which is designed for this purpose. We give women a safe space to game and improve their skills as gamers, without having to face these negative elements. So women don’t have to log on under a male gaming name just to avoid this unacceptable experience while gaming.
WS: Do you have any tips for female gamers and women specifically looking to get into the gaming industry, from both the technical and creative sides of the field?
CC: My advice would be to go for it! Gaming is one of the fastest-growing industries, especially in the Middle East and Africa. The numbers we have in the Middle East is that nearly half of all gamers are female, so they should unapologetically be dominating the gaming industry.
As for the technical side, Lenovo offers a unique gaming range, the Lenovo Legion series. Every Lenovo Legion Gaming Laptop is crafted with the objective of providing the very best gaming experience. The Legion series laptops are equipped with the latest in the world of hardware, every laptop is guaranteed to house the latest in hardware technology
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.