Women's Leadership in Technology: Inspiring an Inclusive Future

Despite gradual advancements towards greater equity in the technology sector, the progression of women's careers in IT remains a challenge. In this industry where they are a minority, the need to increase the representation of women in leadership roles persists. To celebrate International Women's Day, we interviewed several of our female experts in leadership positions about their challenges and successes throughout their careers in tech.

Barriers to Female Leadership

Based in Marrakech, Doha Laghrari holds a degree in information systems engineering. According to a UNESCO report, unlike global trends, Morocco stands out with one of the highest rates of female engineers in the world, reaching 42.2%. In comparison, Canada has only 19.7% of female engineers. Our expert highlights the challenges women face in accessing leadership positions in this field.

As a team leader at XRM Vision, she supervises six consultants and is committed to supporting their professional development and well-being. Although she plans to eventually take on more responsibilities, her current priority remains her family.

Doha Laghrari, Team Leader and Project Manager (Marrakech, Morocco)

"There are obstacles for women to progress. Not at XRM Vision. I've encountered this kind of mindset in my previous jobs. There seems to be a preference for men even with similar skills. In leadership, there aren't many women. We work well, but leadership opportunities are limited. Perhaps the situation will evolve. For my part, my family life is my priority, especially now that my youngest is only four years old. I prefer to wait for things to stabilize personally before aiming for higher leadership positions."

Leading with Compassion

Based in British Columbia, our Vice President of Delivery, Ann Marie Barnhill, shares her thoughts on the privileges she enjoys. Her testimony invites us to recognize the privileges that color our journeys while challenging us to remain mindful of the obstacles facing some of our colleagues.

Doha Laghrari with her colleagues during our eXperience 2024 in Agadir, Morocco

Ann Marie Barnhill, Vice President of Delivery (Victoria, Canada)

"As a woman in tech, I acknowledge all the privilege that I have: white, hetero, middle class, with uninterrupted access to food, shelter, education, sports, travel, and the arts. I have also always had a fully supportive family. Not all my colleagues have been so lucky. I do best and I enjoy my work the most when I bring my authentic self to my work. I have always enjoyed teamwork, problem-solving, and a good laugh. I like when other people have different approaches to solving problems. I enjoy a healthy argument."
"I have experienced and have witnessed pay disparity, inappropriate behavior in the workplace, underappreciation of diversity and different points of view, and inexplicably rigid workplace requirements. I have also experienced and witnessed growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. And women and men are doing a better job of coaching and mentoring the next generation of women and men in technology. And remote work has been a game-changer. This gives me great hope for the future. As a society, we can still do a better job of leading with compassion and caring: for our colleagues and for our clients."

The Power of Support

For our team lead and functional analyst, Leoza Kabir Barker, the journey since graduating in computer science has been smooth. She works hard, but she also attributes this success to the encouragement and constant support of her team at The Digital Task, then at XRM Vision.

Leoza Kabir Barker, Team Lead and Functional Analyst (Victoria, Canada)

"It was really hard to think of a challenge in my career. I'm lucky to work in a company where I am constantly supported. I never felt like I was treated differently. Eric, Felix, David, Kim, and Ann Marie are always there to support me in my projects. I read that men feel less of the imposter syndrome than women, and I certainly felt the imposter syndrome. But every time, I received invaluable support. There are a lot of horror stories, but I never had to experience that. When Kim and Ann Marie became vice presidents, I was so excited to see what's next."
"I never perceived any unfair treatment between men and women. When I joined The Digital Task as a computer science graduate, I was warmly welcomed by my colleagues, even though I was the only woman. And then The Digital Task joined XRM Vision, and those are my only experiences. My journey has been easy and pleasant, with constant support from my peers. I've never encountered any inappropriate behavior because of my gender. Trust reigns within our team."
Some of our Canadian experts during the 2024 Experience in Mexico

Teaching, Transmitting, and Growing

For Kim Mac Dermott, our Vice President of Technology and Academy Director, her professional journey has been marked by a smooth transition. Her promotion to a leadership role was a turning point, offering her the opportunity to cultivate her passion for mentoring people. As a young adult, she had considered a career in teaching, but it was ultimately at XRM Vision where she found the perfect intersection between her passion for technology and her desire for mentorship.

Kim Mac Dermott, Vice President of Technology and Academy Director (Montreal, Canada)

"I've never felt held back because of my gender. I've always worked in teams that trusted me. I grew up on a baseball field, and I've always been someone who gets involved. My instinct, if there's a gap, is to fill it, just like on the field. When I was offered the position of academy director, I questioned what responsibilities would come with this role. What I really love is coaching and guiding people in their professional development. I was told that I would have more chances to achieve these aspirations if I became a director. The question was: 'What do I want to do and can I do it?' I grew up being told that if you don't ask, you don't give the opportunity for someone to say yes."
"Accepting this position meant having more opportunities to achieve my goals. I had considered becoming a teacher because I appreciate the impact it can have on people's lives. For me, helping others grow is a natural step. In baseball, what I loved doing was coaching the next generation. If I can do that in my job, then why not? I look for opportunities where I can do it while I work. And at XRM Vision, those doors have opened."

Our Inclusive and Supportive Culture

At XRM Vision, we cultivate a culture of inclusion, flexibility, and mutual respect that promotes the collective development of our teams. For our project manager, Nivedita Joshi, this inspiring atmosphere is manifested by the meaningful representation of women in leadership positions and by the fair and deserved recognition given to their contributions.

Nivedita Joshi, Project Manager (Ottawa, Canada)

"Two aspects that I really appreciate at XRM Vision are the meaningful representation of women in leadership positions, unfortunately uncommon even in our time, and the fair and deserved recognition given to women for their contributions. This latter point is particularly evident during our Gala at our recent stay in Mexico, where 3 out of 5 awards were won by women. This recognition reflects the value we place on women's achievements, a value shared by our entire team.Navigating between professional and family demands is a constant challenge for women, especially with remote work often blurring the boundaries between work and personal life."
"The difficulty of finding a balance is exacerbated by what many call 'mom guilt': the feeling of not doing enough for the family. This reality is particularly hard for mothers striving to excel in all areas of their lives. The flexibility offered by XRM Vision in terms of remote work is a valuable resource that allows employees to juggle family responsibilities. For example, I can take care of my sick son while continuing to contribute effectively to work."
"Another remarkable aspect of the culture at XRM Vision is the solidarity among women. Too often, elsewhere, women are unfortunately inclined to criticize each other, but here, we celebrate each other's successes. Every success is a source of collective joy, and I personally find it rewarding to see my colleagues evolve and thrive. This atmosphere of mutual support is also reinforced by our male colleagues. I see so much appreciation and respect from them, and it contributes to our collective success."

In Conclusion...

In summary, women's leadership in information technology is crucial for collectively addressing current global challenges. We thank our experts Doha Laghrari, Ann Marie Barnhill, Leoza Kabir Barker, Kim Mac Dermott, and Nivedita Joshi for their valuable testimonies, which highlight the importance of mutual support, recognition of privileges, and the creation of an inclusive culture. By fostering diversity and encouraging equitable professional opportunities, we can create an environment where women can thrive, thus contributing to an inclusive future.