Women in technology: defeating the odds and overcoming gender inequality in the workplace - Maintel

Women in technology: defeating the odds and ensuring gender equality in the workplace

4th May 2022
By: Joanne Ballard, ESG Strategy and Compliance Director

Our women in tech blog series continues as we sit down with Joanne Ballard, our ESG Strategy and Compliance Director, an integral member of our Executive Management Team (EMT). In this article, Joanne talks about her experience in having a career in a male-dominated industry and how she’s helping Maintel to ensure gender equality in the workplace.

I’ve loved technology from an early age, taking things apart and rebuilding them. I remember having a rotary dial telephone and not going anywhere without it – long before the days of mobile phones!

It seemed natural to me to start my career in technology, but I found early on that one of the biggest obstacles was old fashioned thinking. When I started out, with a passion for technology, I was seen as ‘just a young girl’ and often asked, “why would a girl want to do that?”. It was very patronising and thankfully I’ve seen the world change, but I had to push against those attitudes and not let them get me down or deter me.

As my career has matured, I’ve been lucky. The team I work with now treat everyone with respect regardless of gender. Throughout my career, it’s taken a lot of perseverance to get to where I am today but my determination, people communication and support network has kept me going. I’ve had to shape and bend and change a bit over the years, but I am now (and have been for a few years) treated with respect as an individual and I hope I show that respect to males and females equally.

There has been an obvious lack of women in the roles that I’ve moved forward through – even though I’ve worked in and on the periphery of the technical roles, some days you didn’t see another woman.

I didn’t have a single female engineer in my team when I was an Engineering Manager, they just didn’t apply. I don’t think women saw engineering as attractive and there were thoughts of what was a woman’s job and what was a man’s job back then. I truly believe we need to get young women who are interested in technology into our industry by doing some work experience – shadowing an engineer, sitting on a technical service desk; or moving forward through apprenticeships so they can see the reality that there is now a much more inclusive environment.

My role as ESG Strategy and Compliance Director at Maintel provides me with a platform for something I’m really interested in, and that can make a positive change. As part of that role, I’ve helped set targets for SDG5 which aims to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’.

Along with committing to 40% of all employees being female by 2030 (we’re currently at 33%), we are focused on increasing the number of women hired into technical roles and reducing and maintaining the gender pay gap. We’re also aiming to ensure women are better represented in leadership roles, with 40% of senior management to be women by the end of 2025, and a minimum of one female member on the board.

My advice to women interested in a technical career, or any career that was (or is) male-dominated is to just follow their passion – the world of work is changing, and opportunities are out there. I didn’t have a university education, I completed day release at college once I had a job and I had to persevere to get where I am now. I did it through hard work, grit, and communication – mostly with men! And any young woman can do the same. 

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