Welcome to our Women in Tech interview series, where we speak with exceptional women who are driving innovation and change in the technology industry.
Today, we are thrilled to be speaking with Kate Veronneau, Director of Women’s Strategy at Zwift. In this interview, Kate shares her insights on some of the biggest challenges facing women in the tech industry, including bias and lack of mentorship, and how organisations can work to overcome them.
She also shares some of the specific initiatives and programs that she has implemented at Zwift to support the advancement of women in sports, and the role of technology in promoting gender equality.
Kate highlights the importance of mentorship and networking in helping women advance in the tech industry, and offers advice to those seeking to build their networks and advance their careers. Join us as we explore Kate’s inspiring journey and her vision for the future of women in tech and sports.
Hi Kate, thanks for joining us today. In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges that women face in the technology industry, and how can we work to overcome them?
I think two of the biggest challenges women face is bias and lack of mentorship. Tech is still very much a male-dominated field and women can face several barriers to entry and long-term career advancement.
Similarly with mentorship, there is often a lack of opportunity for women to connect with leaders in their organisations, especially if leadership teams don’t reflect the makeup of the company.
Organisations should be actively addressing both challenges through training and programming. For example, as part of our diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging (DEIB) programme at Zwift we have set up a Women’s Employee Resource Group designed to accelerate innovation and tap into different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in order to support, develop and attract female talent.
As the Director of Women’s Strategy at Zwift, what are some of the specific initiatives or programs you have implemented to support the advancement of women in sport?
At Zwift, so much of the work I do is focused on creating more opportunities for women than when I was a professional athlete. Examining how we can utilise our technology to break down barriers is key!
For example, we have championed the push for allowing female riders to compete in the Tour de France, and in 2022 we committed to a 4 year title sponsorship of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the first Tour de France for women since 1989 – a groundbreaking event which gave female athletes the opportunity to compete in cycling’s most prolific race.
How do you see the role of technology evolving in promoting gender equality, and what are some of the ways in which Zwift is working towards this goal?
Technology has the potential to break down barriers and create new opportunities. Across various professional platforms, and within the media, women around the world can connect, learn, and better position themselves for roles they want to achieve.
Technology has acted as a catalyst for the creation of global networks which have created better access to mentorships and job opportunities for women. Mediums like podcasts, blogs, and webinars are playing an increasingly integral role in the continued education and development of women in a range of industries.
Using technology to further a gender equal future means thinking outside the box. At Zwift, we’ve used our technology to help identify female talent for our professional development program.
Not everyone lives in an area with great cycling communities, safe roads, or access to equipment so we asked ourselves how we can play a part in solving this problem. Our Zwift technology provides safe spaces for women to train and race together, connecting them with competitors around the world so they can continue to advance no matter where they are.
How do you see the intersection of technology and sports evolving in the coming years, and what opportunities do you see for women in this space?
In an increasingly digital world, the intersection between technology and sport is going to continue to grow. This intersection is connecting people around the world and affording them the opportunity to participate in events that otherwise would have been out of reach.
An example of this is our annual Zwift Academy program, which continues to help unearth the next generation of cycling talent from all corners of the globe to give aspiring young athletes who may not have otherwise had the chance to break into the pro cycling circuit through Zwift. It has helped Aussies like Neve Bradbury achieve pro contracts with globally-renowned teams to kickstart their careers, and I can’t wait to see how this program continues to evolve in the future.
At Zwift, we’ve created a virtual world that can offer parity in competition and the social motivation of an active and engaged community of women around the globe. We are passionate about how the sporting industry can be further strengthened and balanced by prioritising gender parity, especially given only seven per cent of televised media coverage in Australia is dedicated to women’s sport. There are still a lot of misconceptions that women’s sports don’t make money or aren’t as exciting and at Zwift we’re on a mission to harness technology to prove this wrong.
Can you speak to the importance of mentorship and networking in helping women advance in the technology industry, and what advice do you have for those seeking mentorship or building their networks?
The opportunity to connect with and learn from women who have faced and overcome similar career challenges offers women at early stages in their career a ‘leg-up’.
At Zwift, we’re focused on fostering a representative, just, and welcoming environment at all levels of our organisation and mentorship and networking opportunities provide women with a clear pathway to reaching their career goals. Ensuring we have a diverse leadership team is key in helping women advance in the tech industry, as seeing themselves represented in positions of power is invaluable to ensuring long-term success.
For those seeking mentorship or to build their networks, it is key to connect with professional networks dedicated to sharing career advice and opportunities across a range of industries. This will allow you to connect with like-minded individuals, opening you up to different experiences and ways of thinking which make our own richer and more well-rounded as a result.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here