The data center industry, like many other technical fields, has traditionally been dominated by men. According to the Uptime Institute report in 2021, the proportion of women in the data center industry remains low and more than three-quarters of data center operators surveyed report that their workforce is around 10% women or less.
One of the reasons for this can be attributed to it being ‘technical’. However, all this is changing as more women are entering the industry, and they are contributing to the overall workforce diversity as well as in creating better and more innovative solutions.
There are many roles within the data center industry, ranging from operations and maintenance to design and engineering. Nevertheless, women, too, can play a critical role in all of these areas.
What Women Can Do?
Women can play various roles in data centers, may it be in data center management, network engineering, cloud computing, data analysts, electrical and mechanical engineering, and project management.
Danni Xu, the Lead, Infrastructure Strategy and Commercial for Sea Ltd, the leading consumer internet company in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, has a long history in the data center space including with Singtel and Telstra Global Data Centers.
Xu has been in the data center industry for more than a decade. She started as a Market Analysts for cloud and data center with multiple promotions in her first company Frost & Sullivan. She also worked as a data center product manager in Singtel and data center product lead in Telstra.
Based on her experiences, both Singtel and Telstra have strong determination to have more female leaders, particularly in Telstra which according to her are all excellent women who played their pivotal roles in the company and demonstrated great examples of women in tech, who are so intelligent, cheerful and full of energy professionally and personally.
Moreover, as a working mother, Xu still manages to balance work and family matters. By setting priorities, communicating with colleagues, building a support network, and being flexible, she can find a balance that works for her and her family.
“We always say that we need to balance between your work and your family. But the balance is very natural when your company or the people surrounding you give you sufficient understanding and support,” said Xu.
Women in the Ever-evolving Industry
The data center industry is poised for significant evolution in the coming years, driven by advances in technology and the need for more sufficient and sustainable operations. In line with this, the role of women in the data center industry is becoming increasingly important as the industry continues to evolve and grow.
However, for Danni Xu, if someone has the willingness to play a role in the evolution of the data center industry, regardless of their gender, they should be given the opportunity to do so. It is essential to create a level playing field that allows everyone to contribute their skills and expertise to help drive the industry forward.
The data center industry is constantly evolving, and there is always something new to learn. By staying informed, building skills and connections, and pursuing opportunities to gain experience, one can position themselves for success in this exciting and growing industry.
“Don’t set boundaries for yourself or presume where your limit is. Trust yourself enough then focus on making things happen by all means. If you feel you don’t have sufficient knowledge at this moment, it only means this area has a bit of potential for you to learn,” said Xu.
Initiatives Empowering Women in the Industry
In recent years, there have been different initiatives to increase diversity and inclusivity in the industry, including increasing the representation of women.
There is a growing recognition of the need for greater diversity and inclusion in the data center industry. In fact, many companies are taking steps to recruit and retain more women, including offering flexible work arrangements and mentoring programs.
Tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Schneider Electric, and Equinix have the same goal of achieving gender parity in its workforce. Hence, the companies have implemented several initiatives to support their goal.
Initiatives that empower women in the data center industry are crucial for creating a diverse, inclusive, and skilled workforce that can drive innovation and success in this rapidly growing field.
Women bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences to the data center industry, and can play a crucial role in shaping its future. Hence, it is important for the industry to continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion, including the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women. By doing so, the industry will benefit from a wider range of perspectives and experiences, leading to innovation and success.