• WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: Taking the plunge into edtech

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    Vanessa Boddington, Director of Customer Operations at Kortext, says that edtech is a dynamic sector filled with educated, articulate people, and why more women should take the plunge and embark on their edtech career…

    • What skills and attributes do women bring to the HE/edtech sectors?

    The women I have encountered in HE and edtech have all had the ability to take the long view on relationships, both within their own teams, cross-functionally and with external stakeholders. This is a really useful skill in a fast-paced environment where even the smallest, most innocuous change can negatively impact another team. They were also more inclined to communicate across teams, displaying an understanding of other team’s priorities and constraints which was appreciated and fuelled a positive relationship feedback loop.

    • Why is edtech a great industry for women?

    In my experience, companies that have a strong engineering culture are open to debate, to the concept that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. If your viewpoint is backed with data, any argument you have is considered. I’ve always felt like my contribution has been valued in all the roles I’ve held.

    • What makes women successful in edtech?

    All the successful women I have encountered in edtech have been strategic, highly organised, collaborative to the core and extremely efficient. Businesses in this sector tend to be fast paced with defined, cyclical timelines to deliver products and solutions to customers. The ability to see the big picture while simultaneously focusing on the immediate deliverables benefits hugely from these attributes. Having a sense of humour, and the ability to nurture teams to get through the tough times is for me a strength that make women successful in this space.

    • 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’m passionate about mentoring and supporting women, helping them to see themselves and what they can bring to roles in a different light. Most recently I reconnected with a member of my team who started with me in an entry role, but who is now looking to take the step up from middle manager to more strategic roles. It was great to review her resume, talk about her perceptions of herself, and share experiences I have learned on my career journey. I was lucky enough to be trained and mentored at the start of my career in higher education whose advice I still live by ‘integrity matters.’

    • What role do you think men play in supporting and promoting gender equality in the sector?

    I’m lucky to have had the support of men throughout my career, from direct line managers to colleagues working on projects. They pushed me to take on new challenges, new roles and were always generous with their time. They were open to my ideas, valued my input and work ethic, and I never felt as though I was treated differently to any male colleagues. That’s how you promote gender equality – by giving everyone a fair shake based on their abilities.

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

    Take the plunge! This is a dynamic sector filled with educated, articulate colleagues and customers. Read and educate yourself as much as possible about issues that impact your customers and remember that they have been promised many ‘silver bullets’. Be humble about what your technology solution can deliver.

    • 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?

    Be open to finding learning opportunities wherever you can, formal or otherwise. Cultivate relationships with other teams and understand what they do and the systems they use – are there opportunities for you to adopt these and streamline your own workflows? Find a good blog or other source of market information and read. Get out and meet customers to understand their perception of your company and product – that business awareness is as important as hard skills.

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

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

    I think investment into promotion of STEM subjects in schools for girls is where inspiring women to work in tech starts. However, edtech offers far more roles than those that require an engineering qualification, so the sector should ensure that these roles receive the same exposure to combat any perception that you have to be ‘techy’ to work in an edtech business.


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