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International Women's Day - why women in tech need more solidarity, less 'Game of Thrones'

In a sector like tech where women are in short supply, it would seem that a bit of female solidarity might well be justified, whether that means giving one another a helping hand or leaders passing on insights and lessons learned to more junior colleagues.

But the real-life experience of senior women seems mixed in this regard. For example, while Christal Bemont, CEO of cloud data integration supplier Talend, was lucky enough to benefit from a couple of extremely positive female role models, before she met them it felt more like “survival of the fittest”, with “every man, or women, for themselves”.

The same was true of Jen Taylor, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer at web infrastructure and security provider Cloudflare. Her advocates and mentors were mainly men, but in the early days of her career in particular, she says:

It felt a little like ‘Game of Thrones’, meaning there were a finite number of opportunities available for women and we’d have to fight to the death to get them. As a result, it felt like women were far less supportive and far more critical of each other than men.

That said, the situation was almost the opposite for Victoria Phillips, Chief Operating Officer at digital commerce and marketing software vendor Avionos. She found women leaders to be her biggest supporters, while her relationship with male managers tended to be “more transactional” and less helpful in terms of career development.

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