Blog | Apr 14, 2020

Women in RPA – Part 1: Redressing the Balance of Women in Technology

440x308 1 WIRPA ann

Increasing the representation of women in the technology community is an important goal – and a long-term aim that we hold dear here at Blue Prism. By helping the technology and software sectors to reflect the true diversity of society, we can gain a better understanding of our customers, partners and community stakeholders. And that’s not just better for business – it’s better for the world at large too.

Our ‘Women in RPA’ (WIRPA) initiative was set up to promote the role of women within the robotic process automation (RPA) space, through events and community engagement. WIRPA will soon mark its one-year anniversary, celebrating a year of bringing our Blue Prism partners and staff a forum to discuss, engage and highlight the key issues of women in STEM. It’s a vital resource for the women in our group and a positive way for us to boost female representation.

In the first post from this new 4-part series, we speak to Cari Williams, Director, EMEA Strategic Program Management, and Sophie Rawlins, Account Director at Blue Prism to find out more about WIRPA – and how they’re helping to redress the balance of women in technology.

Creating the Women in RPA initiative

Women represent only 16% of the technology industry – and that percentage is also similar when you look at the world of robotic process automation (RPA). Was this the driver behind Blue Prism setting up the Women in RPA initiative?

Sophie: “Our Women in RPA (WIRPA) initiative was created because we saw a gap in the market for an industry-specific community that stands to champion and celebrate the achievements made by women and other under-represented groups.”

Cari: “Historically, like many others, the technology industry has always been male dominated.

One of the main objectives we wanted to achieve by setting up WIRPA was to raise awareness of the benefits of having an inclusive and equal workforce. A recent article written by EY states that having an equal workforce could add $28 trillion to the global economy by 2025, and that’s a key reason why we decided that a focus on increased female representation was needed.”

Sophie: “Blue Prism’s inception into enterprise RPA was driven largely by the risks our legacy customers took. Organizations such as the Co-Operative Group, and The Very Group (previously known as Shop Direct), had strong female leaders who we now see as the pioneers of RPA. We want to shine a spotlight on these women – the likes of Lindsay Harrison (The Very Group) and Jane Conroy (ex-Co-Op, now EMEA Head of Professional Services for Blue Prism) – and show the successful careers women can have in our industry.”

Sophie: “Our hopes for WIRPA are to increase the female representation in our industry, and to promote an environment where anyone interested in pursuing a career in our exciting market, both men and women, has the confidence and belief that they can do so.”

Encouraging women to overcome the gender barrier

The roles needed in the technology sector are so varied, from deep technical skills such as development and coding, to jobs in project management, sales and marketing etc. How can companies encourage women to aim high and overcome the pre-existing gender barriers?

Cari: “For me, I think it’s the unconscious bias of others that’s one of the primary barriers women are facing today. Recruitment is a particular area of focus for this topic and where I believe a lot of the inequality lies for women in the workplace. It’s an issue that’s not exclusive to the technology industry, of course – recruitment’s a recurring theme on the agenda of many ‘Women in Business’ events.”

Sophie: “Personally, I believe the only barriers facing women in the technology industry are the barriers we impose on ourselves. We know that women are just as capable of fulfilling these roles, but what we lack most is confidence.”

“Statistically, we know that women shy away from applying for a role if they don’t feel as though they meet 100% of the requirements, whereas men will apply if they meet 60%. So, those in hiring positions will continue to have a gender-biased pool of talent to recruit from if we don’t empower and encourage women to put themselves forward for roles.”

“There are plenty of initiatives that encourage women to aim high and put themselves forward. For example, #IamRemarkable is a Google initiative which stands to empower women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond. This is something we’ve recently introduced to Blue Prism and I firmly believe it will help inspire our colleagues, and help them recognize their own strengths.”

Being a force for change in the RPA industry

Recognizing the strengths, skills and RPA aptitudes that they possess is one of the core aims of WIRPA. And we’re confident that having the WIRPA platform is helping women to get their voices heard and form a robust community of female RPA advocates and specialists.

In Part 2 of this 4-part series, we’ll look at how Blue Prism and WIRPA are supporting women in the RPA space and how we’re taking our message of equality and diversity out to a global audience through events, online webinars and sponsorship partnerships.

Get involved in our Women in RPA initiative

Hear from our Blue Prism experts, Carla Marzari, Innovation Engineer on May 14 talking about Intelligent Automation: An Overview Of Current Day Applications And Benefits and Sam Shaw, Head of Customer Support EMEA on June 10 covering Boost your Future Intelligently with Automation.

We look forward to having you join us!