International Women's Day: We've come a long way, but there's still an awfully long way to go

Auth0 CISO Joan Pepin on improving workplace opportunities for diverse employees and her experiences of being a trans woman working in the cybersecurity industry.

International Women's Day is held annually on March 8th to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women whilst providing a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year, IDG Connect has interviewed women from across the world who work in the technology sector to find out more about the current global landscape for Women in Tech.

Silicon Valley is often considered to be the centre of the technology universe, providing a home for some of the biggest names in the global tech market. Thousands of startups have flocked to the region in hopes of finding the kind of success already afforded to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet, Apple, Cisco, Intel, Symantec; all of which have headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.

However, when it comes to similarities, these corporations have more in common than just location: workforces which under-represent female and minority ethnic employees. Of the Silicon Valley companies that were asked to release their government-mandated EE0-1 reports to the Center for Investigative Reporting, only 22 out of 211 companies complied with the request.

Of those 22 companies, only 7 reported a workforce that was over 40% female. When it comes to the percentage of female executives in those same 22 companies, 23&Me was the only organisation above that same 40% threshold. The data also showed that, with the exception of Airbnb, all other 21 companies have a male-dominated management team of which more than half are white.

While Silicon Valley is only one (rather large) part of the US tech landscape, it is undoubtedly a microcosm of the rest of the country. Women make up less than 20 percent of tech jobs in the United States, even though they make up more than half of the US workforce. Even more surprising is the fact that fewer women today hold jobs in computer science than they did in the 1980's.

Despite these continuing inequalities, it's not all bad news. In the last decade, technology companies of all sizes across the United States have started to run initiatives to help promote the increased recruitment and retention of female staff in the tech sector. Furthermore, many companies are starting to tackle the inherent biases that continue to permeate working culture; addressing the pay gap and offering flexible work policies so women no longer have to choose been employment and care-giving.

To find out more about what it's like to be a woman working at a US tech company, we spoke to Joan Pepin, CISO and VP of Operations at Auth0. Here, she talks about what we can do to improve workplace opportunities for diverse employees and her experiences of being a trans woman working in the cybersecurity industry.