The technology industry has been making strides towards diversity and inclusion, but the gender divide remains a persistent issue. Despite this, Tigerpaw Software, a small business, has managed to maintain a higher-than-average percentage of women technologists. This article explores the efforts of Tigerpaw to create an environment where all can thrive in tech careers, with a focus on diversity of thought, career growth, work-life balance, mentorship, and education. These values have resulted in a workplace culture that organically led to increased women in the workforce.
Tigerpaw Software focuses on diversity of thought in recruitment practices, with the goal of hiring the most qualified individual, regardless of personal attributes. Over the last 35 years, this has historically led to having more women in tech and leadership roles within the organization. James Foxall, Tigerpaw President and CEO reflects, “My mother was one of the first programmers I ever knew. She was instrumental in the creation of Tigerpaw, so it has always been clear to me that unique perspectives are imperative to success.”
Women at Tigerpaw believe in the value of empowering female team members towards career growth while fostering a welcoming environment. Loren Landry, Product Analyst, joined Tigerpaw’s training team 10 years ago, and working in the technology industry spurred her curiosity towards networking and IT. After taking on additional educational opportunities, she approached Tigerpaw’s leadership team to discuss where her talents would be suited within the company. She has since had the chance to grow her career in three other positions at Tigerpaw. “I feel like they’re continually giving me opportunities, and it’s amazing,” Loren said.
Additionally, personal growth and work-life balance have been important to the women at Tigerpaw. Providing a space for the development of soft skills has been vital to Toni Bennet’s experiences as a Software Architect. She states, “I learned how to be confident at Tigerpaw. I’m not just an asset here; I’m a person.” Similarly, Bridget Brevik, Software Developer, shared how Tigerpaw has been a “family-first” employer by providing deep compassion and understanding during times of personal loss.
This sentiment of being family-first has been true for many of Tigerpaw’s team during the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees shifted from in-office to remote work. While working from her home with two children, Radhika Ramamoorthy, Senior Developer, commented on the stressors of the pandemic, “Without daycares, everything was crazy. I had a new baby during the pandemic and sometimes needed a few breaks. Tigerpaw was really understanding about that.” Denise Berg, Scrum Master, also experienced the unique struggles of motherhood during the pandemic, stating “Employees at Tigerpaw can balance their time on their own and have the work-life balance that they need.” Tigerpaw has maintained remote work options for all employees beyond the pandemic.
Many women face barriers in the technology field, at all stages of their career development. When asked what advice they would give women entering the technology industry, women at Tigerpaw agreed that mentorships provide great guidance and career opportunities. Shelly Miller, Database Architect reflected, “I had 2-3 mentors that were wonderful. It was the best on-the-job training I could possibly have asked for. It accelerated my learning, and I was able to jump in with both feet.” Shelly also went on to mentor three others as her career advanced. Mentorship programs and outreach in this industry help to cultivate community, ensure equal pay and treatment, and support many other forms of personal and professional growth.
Cultivating clear communications with your leadership team is another key to growth. Toni Bennet’s best advice is to “tell your employers what you want and ask them the steps you can take now to help you get there.” Within the industry, women technologists have been promoted at a higher rate than men, which may lead to more women in leadership roles (AnitaB.org, 2022). Combined with more diverse hiring practices, the stats for women in technology will continue to improve. Denise Berg encourages all women interested in the technology field that “if you have a passion for it and you’re interested; go for it. Don’t allow people to tell you no or that something’s not possible. Show them what you’re capable of, and you can do it.”
Tigerpaw is proud to support these women (and all who join the Tigerpaw team) with opportunities to attend conferences and further education with tuition reimbursement. Each team member also receives paid volunteer days each year, which can be used to establish mentorships, provide community assistance, or volunteer with any non-profit group of their choice. Additionally, Tigerpaw is honored to be a sponsor of Omaha’s ICAN women’s leadership conference for the last 11 years. Education, networking, and community-building are great steppingstones to inspire and invite women to join the technology industry.
For James, it has been his mission “to create a workplace culture that values our team members’ authenticity and is respectful of individual needs. In doing so, we’ve cultivated a workplace that empowers women and gives them the tools to succeed.” The shift needed to level the playing field for women in technology will take time, but women at Tigerpaw are seeing positive trends for those around them and hope to encourage more businesses to embrace these perspectives and create environments for women to thrive in tech careers.