The Life's Way - A Lifestyle and Technology Blog By Aashish Rai 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Challenging Gender Bias In The #Technology Sector @UCOOKSA #KatieBarry

Hi Guys,

While tech-focused organisations founded and led by female entrepreneurs have been identified as realising greater success financially, the question remains: Why do major corporations still propagate stereotypical myths about the suitability of women in leadership?

This is according to 26-year-old co-founder and CFO of UCOOK, Katie Barry, who refers to Forbes’ recent findings on the matter which revealed that women technology entrepreneurs in America, while working with far less funding, are able to generate 20% greater revenue than their male counterparts in the same position.

On the front line of one of South Africa’s fastest growing technology start-ups, Katie is challenging gender stereotypes within this notoriously gender biased industry, encouraging women who are thriving within the sector to discuss their experiences. “This is the first step to break down these boundaries,” she says.

Outwardly quite reserved, but described as fiery and passionate by those who know her best, Katie is the foundation on which the growing UCOOK brand has been built.
Challenging Gender Bias In The #Technology Sector @UCOOKSA #KatieBarry
UCOOK is a dinner kit delivery service, delivering vegetarian, Low carb or rustic recipes, curated by the country’s best chefs, together with the fresh, organic ingredients needed to prepare these meals straight to the doors of customers. UCOOK recently reached the 1 million delivered meals milestone. This success can largely be attributed to Katie’s skills, ethical code and unnegotiable focus on sustainable farming practices.

Having completed a Spanish, Mathematics and Economics degree - “the Spanish part has yet to come in handy,” she jokes - it was a leap of faith and opportunity that saw her join two friends in developing the new brand and enter the start-up world.

“Everyone I studied with was heading off to internships at big corporates like Facebook and Google. This left me feeling a bit lost but I knew that I wanted to stay closer to home and do something for myself.”

“While I loved maths, it wasn’t my sole focus. I wanted to tap into my other skills and ultimately create a business from scratch,” Katie explains.

Admitting that it wasn’t the easiest journey, especially when having to self-study her way through an accounting degree, Katie’s commitment to self-improvement through continuous education is one of the many characteristics driving her success, and that of the organisation she believes in.

Her advice when it comes to keeping your cool in a male-dominated work environment?

“It is essential that women don’t feel as though they have to hide or feel ashamed of their emotions and become ‘one of the boys’. I can get very emotional and have found a way to use these emotions to my advantage – and in the best interests of the business. I have taught myself to channel my emotions and share my views in a way that people can understand and relate to.”

“Mindfulness has become a big focus for me. I take advantage of my empathetic side to read situations and tackle them in a constructive way,” she says.

In a cold and cut-throat industry, Katie concludes that it’s refreshing for people to feel comfortable in their work without worrying about hiding behind a façade of being the “perfect”, one-dimensional businesswoman.

“There are such exciting things happening in technology and the entrepreneurial space. To truly make the most of this, we need to emphasise three considerations for the industry moving forward: compassion, inclusivity and ethics,” she says.
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