Women comprise 56% of the US workforce, but hold only 26% of technology jobs. The percentage of female STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math graduates, is about 19%. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), this number is continuously decreasing.
Research shows that gender-diverse teams bring in more business and improve creative outcomes when working in diversity-rich environments. With organizations digitizing their operations since the pandemic, there is a greater need for technical qualifications for all employees, regardless of gender.
A significant challenge facing women in the tech industry is the lack of role models. Because of the low representation of women in leadership positions, it is often difficult for them to advance their careers and achieve their goals.
In fact, unfair treatment is a primary reason why women leave their technical jobs at a 45% higher rate than men. Plus, according to the Kapoor Center’s Tech Leavers study, women of color face unfair treatment at even higher rates.
US Army veteran Tiffany Pilgrim, a Barbadian American who founded tech public relations firm Coralini PR, wants to change that imbalanced equation. Pilgrim is also a user experience designer and researcher who is adamant about the importance of women becoming a more disruptive force in the tech sector to help fuel design and innovation.
“We are seeing trends about women in entrepreneurship and technology right now. Entrepreneurship has been booming since the pandemic, and the trend towards women in tech has been very slow,” Pilgrim told TechNewsWorld.
She predicts that women will become a more noticeable disruptor in the tech sector over the next few years.
Diversification opportunities started early
After moving with her parents to New York when she was 16 years old from the Caribbean island where she was born, Pilgrim served as a motor transport operator in the US Army at the age of 18.
When his army service ended, he focused on diversifying his knowledge and skill set. First, as a classically trained actress, she then trained in fine arts and design. Then she perfected her communication talent at a global social media agency based in London.
Pilgrim manages top tier billion-dollar brands such as T-Mobile and DAZN, an international sports streaming platform. Prior to founding Coralini PR, she went into the TV and entertainment business as a producer and communications specialist, working with celebrities and Fortune 500 companies, such as Showtime (CBS) and Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS).
US Army veteran Tiffany Pilgrim is the founder and CEO of Coralini PR.
“I began to realize that I wanted to start my own technical PR firm. After all, technology and public relations were my backgrounds,” he said of his long stint working for a marketing agency.
Having accumulated more than 10 years of communication experience, Pilgrim puts together its skill set to help startup companies get to know their products better. She helped them with their marketing and brand image.
As a technology evangelist running her own public relations firm, she works with top leaders and startups to build their brands and social media outreach.
This was one of the main pain points for new companies. She explained that when they launched their products, they did not know how to convey the features and benefits of the product to the consumers.
“My firm merges technology and PR to solve entrepreneurs’ pain points,” she offered.
tying the elephant in the room
Pilgrims dedicates herself to helping other women start their technical careers. They are often approached by women entering the tech sector as a startup or doing a technical job for another company. Pilgrims are generous with their time, promoting their interests and answering their questions.
“I always attend Zoom sessions with another woman who needs to pick my brains about technology,” she said.
Some of that advice is needed to keep women in their tech jobs rather than avoid the partisan treatment they often face. Pilgrims do not hesitate to discuss the gender barriers they faced while starting.
The Pilgrims admit to dealing with a lot of pushback in the military and beyond. For example, her first duty assignment after basic training was at a military base in Colorado, where she was the only female soldier in the motor pool.
“It was a shock to me and the men as well. I had to prove my worth as a woman in a men’s motor pool. It was something I dealt with a lot. It was a challenge when I was there,” He gave advice.
“Yeah, of course, that’s what happens in the tech industry,” she said. “Of course, I’ve faced obstacles. You can’t avoid it when you’re a multicultural woman.”
Addressing the lack of role models
Pilgrim helps tech entrepreneurs make a name for new and emerging technologies. But his career has an additional goal that involves a broader outlook for those new to the technical line of business.
She continues to mentor and encourage women to succeed in their tech careers. To that end, Pilgrim helps fellow veterans enter the tech industry, just as it did.
To do this, she uses organizational skills learned in the military as well as strategies derived from her communication and design mastery. When she returned to New York about 10 years ago, Pilgrim began her career in communication with social media clients.
“I had no formal training in communication. I just fell into it because my first job was previously with an agency in London. I taught myself User Experience Design. I worked for a while in Hollywood with clients and their media image,” she said.
According to Pilgrim, women are creating a good stir right now when it comes to corporate leadership and technology.
“Many of these women are paving the way for those who follow them. These situations are real for many women, I must say, “she observed. “I believe that women are designing a new world right now.”:
Advice for Female Veterinarians Interested in Tech
Over the years, Pilgrim has been actively involved with a non-profit organization, Veterans in Media and Entertainment. Membership totals approximately 5,000 veterans across the US focused on advancing media and entertainment. According to Pilgrim, he wants to pursue a career in media or be on a film set.
“I actually had a lot of mentors, and I still give advice to veterans who want to get into the media,” she said. I feel now that I am being heard, this is a great platform to attract women who need mentorship.”
Pilgrim recommends that any female veteran interested in starting a tech career needs to do some research about what types of jobs would be a good fit. Also, they need to assess their skill set. What are they able to do or learn? If that person can’t learn from self-study, go to an immersive tech boot camp.
Other options include taking out a loan, obtaining a payment plan or education grant, or investigating technical training programs that offer veteran discounts.
The career training path that Pilgrim followed was to obtain technical certifications for self-study programs. For example, he is certified by Adobe in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. This qualified him to become a visual design specialist after completing all three programs and learning to use software tools.