Championing women in data centres

Championing women in data centres

‘Get your ass up and work’ was Kim Kardashian’s infamous advice for women in business. So, what happens when women are up and working but are overshadowed by their male counterparts? The data centre industry is still male-dominated and although women are increasingly finding their feet in this sector, there is work to be done.

To find out more, I asked several successful women working in data centres about their experience of being a woman in this industry and how they have overcome the obvious hurdles.

Fernanda Belchior, Marketing Director, Elea Digital Data Centers, discusses her experience when starting out in the data centre space.

Fernanda Belchior, Marketing Director, Elea Digital Data Centers

In recent years, I’ve seen encouraging progress in the data centre industry in creating more inclusive environments for women. When I entered in 2013, I was struck by the gender imbalance on my team – of the 60 employees on my floor, only three were women. Basic accommodations like a dedicated women’s toilet required collective action to address. However, over the past decade, I’ve witnessed a gradual shift as the industry has become more intentional about attracting and retaining talented women. While women remain underrepresented in leadership roles, I’m heartened to witness more female voices being heard and valued, but we still have a long way to go.

Cultivating a network of female peers who provide mutual support, share ideas and tackle challenges has been crucial, as have male allies who have championed greater gender diversity and equality within the data centre sector. I’m optimistic that the data centre industry will continue making progress in creating more equitable and inclusive work environments. By amplifying women’s voices and perspectives, we can harness the full breadth of talent and innovation that diversity brings.

Lydia Ininuma, QHSE Coordinator, Open Access Data Centres, explains the misconceptions about women’s capabilities in this industry and how she’s confronted them head-on.

Lydia Ininuma, QHSE Coordinator, Open Access Data Centres

I often find myself the only woman amidst a sea of men in overalls and work boots. I initially felt a sense of intimidation and the pressure to prove myself to my male colleagues. I had to work diligently to earn their respect and demonstrate my capabilities and expertise. Over time, I established my presence and became recognised as a competent and valuable team member.

One of the primary obstacles I face is the struggle to have my voice heard and be taken seriously. Frequently, my ideas and suggestions are disregarded or dismissed solely based on gender. There was a time when a contractor mixing cement refused to wear a mask and gloves. When I asked why, he ignored me, informing me that he has a wife at home who doesn’t question him, so who was I to do so. After I asked what he meant, I reached out to his supervisor to either provide him with complete PPE or have security walk him off site.

Throughout these challenges, I have learned to assert myself and advocate for my contributions without hesitation. I have discovered that my unique perspective and communication skills have enabled me to foster relationships and facilitate collaboration across various departments. My attention to detail and commitment to safety have earned me the respect of my peers.

While the road has not always been easy, being a woman in a male-dominated field has allowed me to cultivate resilience, determination and self-advocacy. I have embraced my strengths and utilised them to my advantage, serving as a role model for other women in the industry.

Dr Umaima Haider, Lecturer in Computer Science & Digital Technologies, University of East London

Dr Umaima Haider, Lecturer in Computer Science & Digital Technologies, University of East London, tells us why young females should choose to take up a career in data centres.

Unlike traditional STEM fields, data centres offer a diverse array of roles spanning IT, engineering, project management, finance and beyond. The beauty? You don’t necessarily need a STEM degree to thrive. Women with varied backgrounds can find their niche and make meaningful impact.

Imagine a career where each day brings new challenges and opportunities for growth, all under one roof. Flexibility isn’t just a perk — it’s a way of life. Instead of job hopping, you can continuously develop skills from one sphere to another within the organisation due to job role diversity; paving your own path to success.

In an era fuelled by AI and digital innovation, the demand for data centres is insatiable. Choosing this career path isn’t just about job security, it’s about being at the forefront of technological evolution.

To young females: embrace the dynamic world of data centres, where every day offers excitement, opportunity and the chance to shape the future of technology.

It is critical to draw attention to this gender imbalance. Ainhize Baranda, Business Development Manager, Red Bear Tech, explains why.

Ainhize Baranda, Business Development Manager, Red Bear Tech

Addressing the gender imbalance is crucial for promoting diversity, equality and inclusivity. By encouraging more women to join the industry, we can tap into a larger talent pool, leading to innovation and growth. Gender diversity brings new perspectives, ideas and approaches to problem-solving, ultimately enhancing the industry’s performance and competitiveness. Moreover, achieving gender balance creates a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all employees, fostering a culture of respect and collaboration. Breaking down gender barriers not only empowers women to pursue fulfilling careers but also sets a positive example for future generations. By doing this, we can build a more resilient and sustainable industry that thrives on a diverse and equitable workforce.

Data centres are at the forefront of technological innovation, serving as the beating heart of the infrastructure that powers our digital economy. By fostering a culture of diversity and taking a strategic approach to recruiting more women – and other minority groups – the sector will better represent the wider community. Through continuous education about the exciting possibilities that employment in the sector offers for women, mentorship, peer groups and open communication, the data centre industry will be better equipped to appeal to the next generation of young women who have such an important role to play for the future of our digital infrastructure. 

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