Snap's Rasha El-Ghoussaini and Farimah Moeini on how to address the gender gap in tech.
Rasha El-Ghoussaini, Head of Industry - Luxury, Travel and Tech, and Farimah Moeini, Head of Industry – Retail and E-commerce, both veterans at Snap Inc. in MENA, discuss the role of women in the tech industry, why we need to overcome the gender gap, and how to do it.
What were your professional trajectories leading to your current roles?
Rasha El-Ghoussaini. After 12 years in the creative agency world, I made a major career shift in 2017, joining the tech industry and becoming Snap’s fifth employee in the region. My first role was focused on managing the big 6 agencies partnerships and incubating accounts to accelerate Snap's vertical structure. Today, I am one of three business leads working together with the country lead to set the company’s strategy in the UAE, with a key focus on the luxury, travel, and tech verticals. Passionate about driving continued business development and success on Snapchat, I work closely with partners on their annual media strategies and measurement frameworks, supporting their plans with valuable data, insights, and thought leadership. Throughout my career, I've been invested in not only driving business impact but also supporting the DEI agenda. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of SnapWomen initiatives to help empower female colleagues and the wider community, as well as being a member of the Unstereotype Alliance, which focuses on eliminating gender stereotypes in media.
Farimah Moeini. As a tech and digital media industry veteran with over 15 years of experience, I've had the privilege of working for some of the biggest players in the game. At Snap, I was the second employee to join the company in the Middle East when I came on board in 2017. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to use my passion for leadership to successfully manage, develop, and grow teams. I’ve developed expertise in web 3.0, mobile marketing, tech solutions, public speaking and communications, and mentorship. Today, I am also a member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) D&I committee, where I am able to collaborate with UN Women and IAB members in the advertising and tech industry. I am particularly invested in supporting the growth of women in tech in the MENA region, and I am honored to be mentoring students in non-profit organizations such as Injaz.
As of 2022, women make up only 22% of the tech industry workforce and 36% of them say they see gender bias as an obstacle to getting a promotion, according to research. How do you perceive this gender gap and how do you explain it?
F.M. As we celebrate International Women's Day, it's important to acknowledge the challenges that women in tech continue to face. The gender gap in tech represents a missed opportunity for the industry to benefit from a diverse range of perspectives and ideas.
Women's representation matters in tech, like it matters in every industry, because diversity and inclusion are critical for an equitable future. This diversity can lead to better outcomes and more effective strategies for tech organizations. Also, diverse leadership teams tend to be more innovative and better able to adapt to changing market conditions. This can be particularly important in fast-paced and rapidly evolving tech businesses.
One issue that contributes to this gender gap is the lack of female representation in leadership positions and hence, a lack of role models for young women considering careers in tech. To address this and other issues in the tech industry, we need to work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive culture. This includes initiatives like mentorship programs, D&I training, and leadership development opportunities for women. At Snap, we recognize that D&I is a marathon without a finish line. We, therefore, set ourselves goals in 2021 to increase women in tech roles to 25% by 2025, and increase women in leadership by 30%. By working together towards taking the right steps, we can create a more equitable and thriving industry for all.
What role do you think social platforms such as Snap Inc. can play in helping women in the workplace?
R. E-G. To promote gender equality in the workplace, organizations should foster a culture that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. This means striving for gender balance across all levels of the organization, particularly in leadership roles. But to even get there, the entire hiring process must also aid the retention of female talent, from pipelining to selecting the interviewing panel. In addition to ensuring women have ample opportunity to succeed within the organization, social platforms can also amplify the voices of women to promote gender equality and celebrate women and their achievements. Social platforms can play a crucial role in creating more inclusive workplaces for women and a more inclusive society overall.
Based on your experience, what tips would you share to succeed as a woman in the tech field? In the workplace in general?
R. E-G. As women, we have had to face obstacles in many areas, and that includes the workplace. Though we are headed in the right direction, there are still hurdles that women must tackle. This is especially true in our traditionally male-dominated industry. Some things to keep in mind going through your career as a woman are that you should be bold and take ownership of your career development. Don’t hesitate to be bullish and push for opportunities to grow. Remember to dream big and avoid setting limitations for yourself. Seek out sponsors and mentors who can support and guide you on your journey. And as you accomplish more in your career, don’t minimize what you are doing or shy away from talking about your ambition. Instead, make sure your impact is wide and visible.
On this International Women's Day, what message would you like to share with young women in the region looking to start a career in tech?
F.M. I would like to encourage young women in the region who have an interest in and passion for technology to believe in themselves and their abilities. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and it needs fresh and innovative minds to keep it going. Tech is a field that presents numerous opportunities for growth and personal development. So be curious, take risks, and embrace challenges with open arms!
To begin your journey in tech, it's important to start building up your skillset. Fortunately, there are many resources available for free that you can utilize to develop your knowledge and expertise. Additionally, networking and finding another woman in tech to be a mentor can provide invaluable guidance and support. Applying for internships is another great way to gain practical experience and learn more about the industry. Most importantly, be persistent. Building a successful career in tech requires hard work and a willingness to learn quickly and adapt to new challenges. So, take advantage of the resources available to you, connect with others in the industry, and stay committed to your goals. With dedication and perseverance, you can build a successful growing career.
Remember that your participation and contributions matter, and that you can make a meaningful impact in the industry. We need you, and we are here to support you as you pursue your ambitions. Together, we can cultivate a more diverse, inclusive, and altogether better tech industry.