How ONE word in a new company’s name so triggered male execs it sparked an expensive rebrand
- LinkedIn says Australian senior execs mostly men
- Fewest female senior execs in construction, transport
- New research released ahead of International Women’s Day
Australia’s tech industry is such a ‘boy’s club’ that when a start-up included the word ‘woman’ in its name ‘tech-bros’ were so triggered that they pressured it into an expensive rebrand.
Shivani Gopal launched her brainchild, a women’s networking app called The Remarkable Woman in 2023 – but changed its name after complaints men felt excluded.
Ms Gopal used the relaunch to add on new features but she had to replace her powerful concept of a women’s community with what is now ‘a digital social learning and mentoring platform’.
She confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that the change was forced on the company to make the name ‘more inclusive’.
One supporter of Ms Gopal’s project, Sydney tech entrepreneur Candice Burningham, believes the case shows how men still make career-defining decisions for women.
Shivani Gopal used the relaunch to add on new features but she had to replace the powerful concept of a women’s community with what is now ‘a digital social learning and mentoring platform’
Sydney tech entrepreneur Candice Burningham, believes a change forced on The Remarkable Woman shows how men still make career-defining decisions for women
One of the few women to be a wild success in senior executive ranks in Australian tech is Canva’s co-founde Melanie Perkins
Her comments comes as research by LinkedIn, released to coincide with International Women’s Day last week, found that only a third of all high-ranking executive roles in Australia in 2022 belonged to women.
‘When an announcement is made that a woman has been appointed to one of the most senior roles in an organisation it is still met with almost surprise,’ Ms Burningham said.
‘That’s a real pity.’
While the tech industry is considered progressive partly because it relies on innovation and gives employees perks not seen in most companies, it was the third-worst offender.
In 2022 only 20 per cent of leaders in technology were women.
In construction just 17 per cent of leaders were women in 2022 making it the the worst performing Australian industry, with transport and logistics at 18 per cent.
Education is performing the best, with 42 per cent of senior executive positions held by women.
While the numbers of senior female leaders in some industries remains very low, overall the situation is slowly edging towards parity.
Women held 41 per cent of all new leadership jobs in Australia in 2022, an increase from 37 in 2018. Overall, women make up 45 per cent of the workforce.
Ms Burningham believes Ms Gopal’s company didn’t get the spotlight it deserved because its name was seen as only appealing to women.
The company is understood to have secured new sources of seed funding and its future looks far brighter.
‘Do I think they would have got that with The Remarkable Woman name? No.’
Ms Burningham, who spent decades working in insurance, merchant banking and media here and in Britain, claims tech in Australia remains ‘a boy’s club’.
She said one of the worst examples she has witnessed involved an unnamed female founder of a tech-start-up being cut short by man at a convention who wanted to speak to a male about her company.
In the Australian construction industry just 17 per cent of leaders were women in 2022
‘I frequently hear from other women that they have to deal with a bro culture which is quite common in companies in the tech sector, the boys saying to each other “hey bro, yeah bro”.
She said the ‘bro culture’ in tech isn’t ‘hostile’ towards women, but it regularly overlooks their achievements.
‘The articles I read and what I hear about venture capital companies seem to be always backing male-led tech entrepreneurs.
‘It’s always about the boys from Afterpay or Atlassian.
Percentage of high-ranking female Aussie execs: by industry
Across all industries in Australia women held a third (33 per cent) of senior leadership roles in 2022.
The figures for broad industry groups are below:
- Accommodation: 25 per cent of senior leaders are women.
- Administrative and Support Services: 29 per cent
- Construction: 17 per cent
- Education: 42 per cent
- Financial services: 25 per cent
- Technology, Information and Digital Media: 20 per cent
- Real Estate and Equipment Rental Services: 25 per cent
- Transportation, Logistics, Supply Chain and Storage: 18 per cent.
‘The only one with a female senior executive was Melanie Perkins at Canva’.
Perkins co-founded Canva with Cliff Obrecht in 2007 when she was 19 years old and still at The University of Western Australia.
In January 2022, Perkins and Obrecht were jointly estimated to have a net worth of $9.21billion according to Forbes.
Ms Burningham said media was probably worse than the tech sector for not providing pathways for women to reach senior management.
Ms Burningham, who mainly worked as an executive assistant before turning her experience into two businesses, said a woman’s best chance to hold a senior role in tech is to start her own company.
‘I did it myself… I don’t believe people look at an EA and think they can be business leaders.
‘So I went around and did it my own way instead of going through the ranks.’
LinkedIn’s Prue Cox said traditionally male-dominated workforces are more resistant to high-ranking female executives.
‘Whilst the data shows there has been some improvement when it comes Australian women representation in the workforce, there is no denying that we have a long way to go to achieving equity, particularly in industries that may have been traditionally viewed as ‘male dominated’ roles.’
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