Women Leading Tech: OpenX’s Audrey Michelin On Why Supporting Women In Tech Is Both The Right Thing & “The Smart Thing To Do”

Women Leading Tech: OpenX’s Audrey Michelin On Why Supporting Women In Tech Is Both The Right Thing & “The Smart Thing To Do”

Audrey Michelin is the current director, account management ANZ at OpenX, aka the world’s top ad exchange for data and identity. If there’s anyone who knows the ins-and-outs of the ever-shifting tech industry then it’s certainly Michelin.

From starting her career in a sector seldom led by female executives, or with few female coworkers for that matter, to holding a senior role in one of the world’s leading tech companies, Michelin is a prime example of success in the face of historically unfavourable odds.

“I can understand how wearing and exhausting it can be to always have to fight to prove yourself in a room where everyone else is given trust and respect due to their gender,” she says.

With the 2022 B&T Women Leading Tech Awards happening tomorrow night, we spoke with Michelin about surpassing the cis-gender male benchmark, raising the bar for all women in STEM, and how tech’s gender inequality affects not just the sector itself, but broader society.

B&T: Hi Audrey. What inspired OpenX’s involvement with the Women Leading Tech awards?

Michelin: “You can’t be what you can’t see” really rings true. It’s very easy to identify great men in tech. People make movies about them. People dress like them, adapt their daily routines, read about and listen to their opinions. We want young women to see great women in tech and know that they can get there too.

And for the women who are currently leading tech, it’s so important to acknowledge the contribution they are making to their companies and the industry.

How do awards like Women Leading Tech help gender equality causes in the industry?

While we are still dealing with gender equality issues in the industry, and the world, it’s important to publicly acknowledge the contribution that women are making in an industry that is traditionally very male-driven.

As I entered the tech industry, there weren’t any female tech leaders in my companies for me to look up to. All of the female leaders were in sales or operations. I was often the only woman in the room, often spoken over or ignored. I am a confident person, so even though I was frustrated by the treatment I was receiving, I would still keep going. However, I can understand how wearing and exhausting it can be to always have to fight to prove yourself in a room where everyone else is given trust and respect due to their gender.

I think awards like the Women Leading Tech shine a light on the excellent job that women are doing in the industry. When Women are being seen and celebrated for the roles that they are doing, it will help to bridge the gap and start conversations that will hopefully progress the goal of gender equality.

Brands have often been accused of “performative” sponsorships, relating to important issues (for example, Pepsi/BLM). Why is OpenX’s partnership with WLT different? 

Supporting women in leadership at OpenX isn’t something that we do because it’s popular or because we think it will make us look good: it’s who we are. We are successful because of our women leaders. Supporting them is not only the right thing to do: it’s the smart thing to do. Supporting women leaders in the broader technology space helps build successful women leaders, raising the bar for all of us.

How has OpenX ensured women are better represented and championed in the tech industry? Do you have any benefits/rewards policies to attract women into the industry? 

We have a Women In Tech employee resource group. It’s a very active group that has been around for several years. That group is active in bringing in guest speakers, providing a space for women to support each other and helping to bring important topics to light. OpenX is a global company so it gives us a great opportunity to connect with women at all levels of the business who we wouldn’t otherwise meet if they are in a different country.

The WIT group recently launched a Women In Tech Spotlight Nominee Initiative with the goal of building a culture of recognition and appreciation toward the women across the organization for their achievements. In addition to recognizing nominees, the monthly spotlight seeks to build familiarity and camaraderie among women across all teams and departments here at OpenX. We are sharing these nominees on our various social media channels, showcasing our culture and support of women in technology.

Why do you believe gender-inclusive participation in tech is of such particular importance compared with representation in other sectors?

I think that for tech – and all of STEM – it’s important to have true diversity, including gender-inclusive participation. Our industry has had such a huge impact on the world. Tech has permeated all aspects of life: how we schedule our days, communicate with each other, participate in the community, solve problems (create problems), etc. The products and processes that affect all of our lives are ultimately green-lit by the leaders in our industry.

If we don’t have diverse experiences and opinions when these decisions are made, the products and processes are inherently flawed, no matter the intention of the creators.

The world in which we live was designed with a cis-gender male as the benchmark but that very much reflects the lifestyles, research and opinions of a time gone by. As our world changes and progresses, it is the inclusion of all genders that will ensure that our lives and society develop in a way that suits all participants and leads to a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life.

What do you think the next decade will look like for tech, particularly if there is great gender representation in leadership roles?

I think if there is great gender representation in tech leadership roles, we will see a more balanced life for all genders. We will see more opportunity, better progress and a more engaged workforce.

We will have products released that are more well rounded (imagine the day when I can speak to my voice assistant at a regular level and it hears me rather than having to shout because it doesn’t register the octave that I speak in, or when facial recognition doesn’t have such a hard time with certain skin tones), processes that suit more of the workforce and in turn, more engaged employees and successful businesses.

Find out more about the Women Leading Tech Awards HERETickets to the awards are now on sale HERE.

As an initiative created to support gender parity and representation across the tech industry, Women Leading Tech is an event inclusive of non-binary and gender diverse members of the tech industry, as well as any individual identifying as a woman.

Thank you to our Women Leading Tech sponsors:

WLT sponsorblock

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