Desiree Galicher, Frontiers Director of Information Technology, reflects on International Women’s Day and her journey to a leadership role in technology
International Women’s Day took me back to the #WinTech event “EU Women in Tech 2019” I attended at the back of last year. It aimed to bring together a diverse group of more than 4,000 women, men and non-binary people working in the technology space. The spectrum of attendees ranged from college students looking to break into technology to senior leaders who have paved the way for other women.
During the two day event, a wide range of topics were covered, with so many fabulous speakers from around the world. But a common theme I kept noticing in the presentations was the struggle many women have faced; and beyond that, the importance of perseverance for women and minority groups in the workplace, especially in male-dominated fields like technology, and how creating strong support networks is crucial for progress and success.
My own road to success has been a winding one. I was born in a rural farming community in British Guyana. At the age of two, my family immigrated to Canada to provide me and my siblings with better opportunities. Since I was eight years old I wanted to be an engineer, even though the culture around me told me that engineering, and STEM in general, was a “man’s job” and tried to dissuade me from pursuing technology. But I persisted. Today I am the Director of Information Technology at Frontiers, a leader in Open Access scientific publishing.
Frontiers embodies my core values. Frontiers has a diverse group of talented people, with over 50% of the leadership represented by women, collaborating and working towards a common goal, to empower the world by making science open and accessible to all through technology. At Frontiers, we foster future innovation by creating a space for scientists from all around the world to meet, exchange and share their research to a broad audience.
In the technology world, we should encourage young women on their paths in the STEM realm, and break the notion that it is a male domain. Women are equally brilliant. It’s not about being better than someone else, it’s about giving the best of yourself. Women can bring innovation, new perspectives, and diversity to the workplace – and for any company, the power is in the minds and hearts of its people. The collective genius of many with the drive and direction of talented leaders who rally the purposefulness of the group will make any company great.
As a woman in tech, I want to encourage and guide the next generation of innovators and leaders. There needs to be more opportunities for young woman to be exposed to technology-oriented careers that spark their interest. Technology needs to be accessible in the mainstream learning paths of schools, particularly as the future of many jobs hangs in the balance with increasing automation through robotics, AI and Machine Learning. Our young people are seeking technology knowledge for the future, we should be looking forward in that same direction.
Working at Frontiers with the many brilliant people that surround me has been very enriching as a fellow peer and as a leader; the EU Women in Tech 2019 conference showed me that my passion for technology and advocacy for women in leadership is echoed in other companies. And both the conference and my career has shown me that no mountain is too high, no task too great, surround yourself with smart and driven people and the sky’s the limit. Women in leadership roles may be seen as a scarce commodity, but let’s change that outlook for the future of all those young women out there!