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Fostering the next generation of female tech leaders in travel

The aviation industry is on the cusp of a digital revolution. Decision-makers and consumers alike can see dynamic shifts in the way we travel, from more personalised experiences and AI-powered trip planning to hydrogen-powered aircraft engines. With such cutting-edge technologies being increasingly developed and adopted as well as exciting opportunities across a rapidly changing travel industry, how do we encourage the next generation of female professionals to join us on the journey?

The aviation industry is on the cusp of a digital revolution. Decision-makers and consumers alike can see dynamic shifts in the way we travel, from more personalised experiences and AI-powered trip planning to hydrogen-powered aircraft engines. Technologies such as AI and automation are driving the shift and rewriting the future of travel tech. Opportunities are in abundance and women who want to enter the travel industry should be encouraged to consider the technology field to help shape the next stage of the sector’s advancement. This is particularly important given that female tech professionals make up only a quarter (26%) of the tech workforce as reported by Tech Nation.

With such cutting-edge technologies being increasingly developed and adopted as well as exciting opportunities across a rapidly changing travel industry, how do we encourage the next generation of female professionals to join us on the journey?

Changing outlook
I’ve seen a lot of changes in the past 12 years since being in a leadership role. In my division of nearly 1,000 people who are responsible for building, customising, and enhancing transformational solutions for well-known travel industry customers, we routinely use collaborative practices and automation with emerging technologies and toolkits to improve productivity, quality, and capability.

Although the landscape has innovated dramatically since I started working in the travel industry, there are still barriers to success for women working in travel tech that need to be overcome.  With more women in the technology workforce, these barriers will be removed or overcome as we continuously improve.

Gender diversity and merit as the way forward
It is crucial for all businesses to aim towards having strong gender diversity among their workforce. Gender should no longer be a barrier to creating organisations with talented individuals who have the necessary mindset and abilities since business choices are best made with diverse thoughts and viewpoints in the mix. For instance, at IBS Software, we have been determined to head in the direction of corporate equality and, as a result, nearly half of our staff are female. Our company’s success, in our opinion, is also a result of the development of our employees and their performance is the sole determining element.

In recent years, we’ve seen organisations putting effort into advancing women at all levels. However, favouring a candidate or an existing employee based solely on their gender can be counterproductive for the business. While acknowledging the gender gap, addressing the issue, and fostering more inclusive workplaces is certainly positive, women should be encouraged to pursue and grab opportunities based on their own merit – not because a company has a gender equality quota to fulfil. This can be a difficult balancing act.

My advice is to hire women because they are the best candidate for the job and remember to let them be themselves once they are in the role. As my personal journey shows, we shouldn’t apply a pre-cast mould to what leadership should look like. Earn everything on your own merit and resist concessions given to you simply because of your gender.

Build confidence and be authentic
I have encountered two key challenges that other women are likely to recognise in their own path. The first is questioning whether your skills are equal to your peers – the dreaded imposter syndrome. I’ve felt a resistance to acknowledge my own accomplishments, and combined with self-doubt, these were key hurdles to overcome. Shying away from speaking about your achievements prevents your voice from being heard or taken as seriously – that’s something women should focus on improving.

The second is the challenge of being accepted as a leader, without taking a stereotypical  aggressive style of leadership. My own challenges taught me that you must continue to practice and become acquainted with your style, so that it’s eventually natural to you and looks that way to others as well.

Thriving industry
I have no doubt that performance, persistence, and perseverance are the fundamental qualities required for a successful career path, regardless of your gender. I believe the new generation of travel professionals is equipped with the right attitude and tools to revolutionise and practice true gender equality, pushing the industry to the next level.

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    21 April 2024

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