Women in Tech: “Diversity drives innovation.”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Two years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Hanna Stacey, Business Manager at Rackspace EMEA.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Two years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Hanna Stacey, Business Manager at Rackspace EMEA.
Today’s woman in tech: Hanna Stacey, Business Manager at Rackspace EMEA
Hanna Stacey is a Business Manager at Rackspace, EMEA within Service Delivery. She works alongside the leadership team to facilitate strategic planning, creation of scorecards and governance of projects whilst keeping the team focused on business priorities.
In the last year at Rackspace, Hanna has influenced the start-up of POWER, a professional network for Women’s empowerment at Rackspace and has been recognized at the Rising Star Awards as a winner in her field.
With a STEM background, Hanna has always been interested in the sciences and the future, and has found her niche working in the technology industry.
What first got you interested in tech?
When mentoring young people in the past, I used to advise them to study Business but today technology is so powerful and plays a vital role in our everyday lives. I’ve always been a proud geek and have a STEM background having studied Biomedical Sciences at University and had aspirations to work in a science or technology role. My fascination started at a young age as I wanted to learn about the brain, the universe and what’s beyond.
What obstacles did you have to overcome?
At University I had my fair share of discrimination when working in laboratories. I was one of only two women in my class and remarks were often made about how unusual it was to see a woman in the labs. Fortunately, I used this as ammunition to prove people wrong and break the stereotype.
Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?
My mum is a fierce feminist and educated me on women’s rights from a young age from the Suffragettes to Emily Pankhurst and has always encouraged me to vote to have my voice heard.
I have a lot of respect for Greta Thunberg. Putting aside the fact that she is a woman and so young (16 years old), I love her public speaking confidence and her no-messing-matter-of-fact approach. Her courageousness to just be heard has created a shape shifting movement that I hope will have a positive impact on everyone in this world.
Did anyone ever try to stop you from advancing in your professional life?
I was one of only two women in my class and remarks were often made about how unusual it was to see a woman in the labs.
The only person that ever stopped me was myself, luckily. There comes a point in a woman’s life when we begin to have thoughts around whether to be a mother or not and this decision is most commonly seen as a hindrance to a woman’s career progression.
Up until recently, I felt that this choice would stop me from taking opportunities to further my career and for some time it did. Until I read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, I had an epiphany, take every opportunity that comes your way, regardless of timing, keep leaning in and pushing forward.
What does a typical workday look like?
I have a supportive role to the Service Delivery team at Rackspace in EMEA, managing projects and providing strategic and operational input to support our 2019 mission of helping customers define, deliver and manage their multi-cloud strategy. In addition, I create process and governance standards within the team to improve our overall efficiency and performance.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m a passionate protagonist, always wanting to fix things that don’t feel right. This is one of the reasons why I decided to set up the POWER group in EMEA. There’s a clear positive intent with the group as we are working towards providing equality in the workplace whilst also empowering women in IT. As a group, we’ve already delivered some great outcomes since launching earlier this year and aim to continue to challenge the status quo.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
Women of working age are from a generation that unfortunately grew up compartmentalized into ‘male’ and ‘female’ gender roles, so women didn’t get the encouragement to do computer sciences or engineering at school. But, this is changing. More investment and focus from government, schools, companies, and parents today means that we are allowing children and young adults the freedom to do more and more of what they’re passionate about.
There is no fixed idea of gender ‘roles’, this dilutes year on year and so we will see more women taking STEM subjects at college and university, which in turn means our pipeline grows. The future will see a more balanced ratio that the currently accepted 80:20 male to female, I am positive of that.
What challenges do women in tech face?
Women tend to be less confident than men which sets them back from career progressions and opportunity. My advice to women is to never believe the narrative of who you are. Believe your own story and don’t suffer from imposter syndrome.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
What I can say is that the debate needs to continue, we are making progress with things likes the gender pay gap report and the #metoo movement as examples. But, we are a long way from perfect
More diversity in companies can only lead to positive outcomes. Diversity drives innovation. There are endless studies on how diversity increases the ability for teams to problem solve. When you have a board table that has different voices, life experiences, and viewpoints you are only going to create better outcomes.
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
It’s hard to put a timeline on something that is trying to change generations of behavior. What I can say is that the debate needs to continue, we are making progress with things likes the gender pay gap report and the #metoo movement as examples. But, we are a long way from perfect.
What advice would you give to women who want a tech career?
Expect to enter into a dominantly male world. Don’t let this inhibit you, find yourself a champion within your company, male or female, that can help mentor you through your career and break that glass ceiling!
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- Women in tech: Danuta Florczyk – “Professional competence against inequality — a perfect tool”
- Women in tech: Lina Zubyte – “We are building so many biases into technology”
- Women in tech: Reema Poddar – “Women MUST promote and support their fellow women.”
- Women in tech: Sivan Nir – “You need to have passion and a thirst for learning.”
- Women in tech: Karen Hoyos – “Diversity should be represented at every level”
- Women in tech: Meghan Jordan – “Good products and good teams require empathy”