Amelia Earhart, the Digital Ninety Nines, and My Pledge for Parity

Earhart was an American aviation pioneer, and the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. She was also a member of the National Woman's Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. As the world celebrated International Women’s Day this March 8th, Earhart’s name and achievements certainly came to the fore.

On March 8th, Episerver launched our global 'Digital Ninety-Nines' initiative as a campaign to recognize the contributions and inspirations of women in IT, digital marketing and technology, and you can find out more about that and listen to our podcast series here. I’m very proud of this initiative, which was the idea of one of our senior directors of marketing, who just happens to be a woman, and not because of that but because I passionately believe in equal rights for all and gender parity. Anything I can do to help with that personally or via our company I will.

I’m fortunate that during my 28 years in the software industry I have not witnessed (and that’s not to say it doesn’t happen) any discrimination around position or pay due to gender. I have worked for many very talented female leaders from whom I learned, just as I have men, and I have had the opportunity to mentor and promote as many women as I have men. In all my years of managing, at no time have I made decisions about pay based on gender, but rather the experience, performance, and contributions of the individual. As most enlightened people know, ability not age, tenure or gender should be the benchmark for how you progress.

I very much applaud the outspokenness of some male C-Level executives in our industry such as Marc Benioff whose position as the leader of Salesforce.com has allowed him, as it has (albeit less outspokenly) Bill Gates to get involved with philanthropic work and to champion causes of inequality. Salesforce and Microsoft both really make an effort to raise the agenda of gender parity in IT, and I love how they showcase women in tech at events like Dreamforce. I also appreciate how Salesforce allows people like my friend Charlie Isaacs to spend so much of his time supporting worthy causes like Black Girls Code, although we would all like to see just more girls code.

Episerver’s own annual customer conference, Ascend, also works hard in this area with panels, keynotes and sessions well balanced, but we can do better. 

Anyway, International Women’s Day asks you to make a pledge to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; to challenge conscious and unconscious biases that might stifle that; to value women’s and men’s contributions equally while creating an inclusive and flexible culture (at work and everywhere); and to call for gender-balanced leadership. I have pledged to support all these things, although it is the last one that I believe has the furthest still to go – and for no good reason.

A cursory look at Episerver’s executive leadership simply demonstrates an all too common sight in the technology industry, just as it does in many others – a lack of gender balance at the top table. We have seen many countries elect female prime ministers, chancellors, and presidents; we may even see this soon in the USA. I do feel that we are seeing more female executives at the C-level today, and I personally would like to see more women go the distance. Let’s empower them to do so. 

I hope you enjoy the Episerver Digital Ninety-Nines and if so, I encourage you to Tweet it using #WomenInTech and #Digital99s. More importantly, I hope you will join me in making your own #PledgeforParity.