• WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: Keeping up with the edtech evolution

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    When it comes to keeping up with edtech innovations, we must stay in the present and learn from the challenges, says Sangeeta Pan (pictured), Manager of Project Management at Kortext…

    • What skills and attributes do women bring to the edtech sector?

    I have a technology background, so when I joined Kortext I joined the edtech sector. I trained in computer science, but I quickly realised I did not like coding, so I asked myself: how can I stay in the tech industry utilising my tech knowledge but without following the traditional coding route? I found that project management within the tech industry was the right direction for me. From a skills and attributes perspective, I really like the leadership that comes with my role. I also get to use my empathy and my communication skills. I have been able to bring a sense of team-building through my collaborative skills, making sure everybody has a voice. I believe that women are able to pick up on those unique skills that help the whole team grow.

    • Why is edtech a great industry for women?

    There’s a lot of opportunity for women in edtech. The industry is growing constantly with lots of new opportunities and a need to introduce roles requiring an agile mindset. There are a lot of roles within that where women are a great fit. You don’t necessarily need to have tech skills to be a scrum master, or a technical project manager, yet there are currently far fewer women in these roles. If I think back to my first-year computer science class, I was one of four women in a class of 1,000. Today, we have a real opportunity to level the playing field, and to show what we can bring.

    • What makes women successful in edtech?

    We bring a different perspective. I’m a mother. Traditionally, I am considered the primary caregiver, so my experiences within my family, with friends, and in my upbringing, my perspectives will be very different to my male counterparts. So, when I come to the workplace, I will approach my role through a different lens bringing a unique perspective.

    For example, often in my management meetings, I am the only woman. I will often be the one who raises points that aren’t specifically tech-related. I’ll have more of a focus on team building, how we work, how we can create efficiencies that will help the team improve and evolve to become successful. I believe a lot of that has to do with the experiences I’ve had as a woman.

    • Are there specific achievements or milestones in your career that you are particularly proud of, and how have these experiences shaped your perspective on gender and professional success?

    One of my career aspirations was to become a leader within my industry, and I’ve been able to do that here at Kortext. I wanted to be a manager of project managers and help guide, lead and develop others. That’s something I’m really proud of.

    • As a female professional, what does the role of mentorship in supporting and guiding other women in their careers mean to you, and have you had any influential mentors in your own journey?

    I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of great leaders who I’ve reported to and peers who support my professional growth. When I think about my past, there are several women I look up to. A very influential leader gave me confidence and helped me to believe in my abilities. She wasn’t technical at all, but she saw something in me that helped me to feel that I was capable of more, and that it was okay to want more. I also learned what not to do from some people too!

    Right now, I have a fantastic male role model. He is a kind, thoughtful, supportive, and empathetic leader. Although some of these may be stereotypically classified as attributes of female leaders, I’m fortunate to have him as an example of what a leader regardless of gender classification should look like. He recognizes my skills and potential and supports my aspirations and career growth based on merit alone. We can share different perspectives openly without judgment and this makes me feel respected which I appreciate.

    • What advice do you have for women aspiring to pursue careers in technology within the higher education sector?

    Don’t be afraid. I think that we are capable of anything, and I believe that if you want it and you work hard for it, you can have it. Building strong relationships with your peers and your leaders will allow you to learn and in turn will open up opportunities that may not have been easily accessible. If it seems like it is out of reach, go for it anyway, particularly if it feels like it’s a job not traditionally made for women. Seek out a mentor, someone you look up to. Through conversations with them, your confidence will grow and you’ll be able to work through challenges and achieve your goals!

    • Considering the rapid evolution of technology, how can women working in the higher education tech sector stay updated and ensure they remain competitive in their roles?

    Constant education. Make space for yourself in your role to grow, and make sure your employer understands that you have a growth mindset. Have the desire to learn more. Don’t become stagnant, because then you start to close doors. Stay in the present and learn from the challenges. Another important point is to surround yourself with people who inspire you and who will push you to continue to grow. I have a few colleagues like this in my circle and I am so grateful for that.

    • What do you hope to see in terms of advancements and opportunities for women in technology within the higher education industry?

    I want to see more active recruitment of women. When we’re recruiting, we rely on applicants to apply, but there must be other ways of finding talent. Often it’s through references, which is great, but can we look at different communities and organisations that may have really talented female leaders? That’s where we can probably do better and find some amazing hidden talent.

    Having mentorship programs built into the organisation is also a great way of offering advancements for women who are looking to break into the tech sector. This is probably the easiest way to allow for advancements making a big impact with very little effort.

    I think back to my former director who had pushed me to take an opportunity that I wouldn’t have applied for on my own – it’s moments like these that help steer young women to progress in their careers.

    • What could the sector do to inspire more women to work in edtech roles?

    When I think of tech, I think of coders or IT support – and I know I’m not alone. We need to market the industry in a way that attract women highlighting the many skills and attributes that we can bring to the table. Many women I work with today have beautifully merged their cross-functional skills and integrated with the technology teams and I’d love to see more of that!


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