Closing the Gender Gap in Tech: The Pioneering Efforts of GeoSTQB #WomeninTesting #ISTQBWomenintesting

2023-09-21

Introduction

In the dynamic world of technology, the gender gap has been and continues to be a topic for discussion. However, organizations like the Georgian Testing Qualification Board (GeoSTQB), one of the ISTQB’s 68 Member Boards, are making significant strides forward in addressing this issue. This article delves into the commendable efforts of GeoSTQB in supporting women and their commitment to closing the gender gap. It is a journey of resilience, determination, and a vision for a balanced tech world where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute and make a difference.

Establishing the ISTQB® Member Board in Georgia and its evolution

The establishment of the Georgian Testing Qualification Board (GeoSTQB) took place in 2019. During a time when the field of quality assurance didn't appear appealing to anyone within the local market. The profession itself didn't seem to have much demand from a business perspective and those who initially began their careers as QA specialists were eager to transition into other roles. It was also during this time that a few colleagues from various companies came to a collective decision that the prevailing situation regarding this field needed to be changed. Their objective was to enhance its appeal, demonstrate its efficacy and relevance to companies, introduce global trends to the local market for aspiring young professionals, and provide educational support, among other initiatives.

In addition to establishing a community from the ground up and actively propelling the QA direction in the country, the team resolved to take on the role of the official representative for ISTQB® in Georgia. ISTQB®, being the foremost organization responsible for creating software testing certification standards, boasts a plethora of industry-recognized professionals, regularly updated products, and continuous additions to its offerings.

Upon assuming the board position, the team had only a partial understanding of the magnitude of responsibility and gravity associated with their forthcoming tasks. Nonetheless, to this day, they persist in their efforts to enhance awareness about software testing within the nation and to aid in the implementation of the ISTQB® Certified Tester scheme.

THE AMAZING MILESTONES - FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

During its initial phases, the board had to focus on various key areas:

  • Business
  • Individuals
  • Education

In the initial phase, the board successfully established a partnership with a global exam provider. This collaboration enabled local residents to conveniently take ISTQB® exams within Georgia, a significant departure from the pre-pandemic requirement of visiting officially accredited exam centers. Subsequently, remote exam options also became available.

The inaugural meet-up, held in early 2020, was dedicated to introducing the board's presence, its mission, and its future endeavors to a wider audience. Additionally, it highlighted the exam centers that had already been established in Georgia.

The group members initiated workshops that offered free-of-charge insights into the Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) certification. They leveraged their networks and communication channels to emphasize the importance of these workshops. They also cultivated connections with universities, advocating for the inclusion of software testing topics, particularly aligned with the ISTQB® syllabus, into their curriculum. These efforts extended to training centers as well, resulting in the emergence of up to 10 training providers offering software testing instruction. This was a remarkable shift from the initial absence of such activities.

A phase followed where companies sought support in several areas:

  • Assistance in locating skilled professionals for their QA teams, primarily for senior and experienced tester roles.
  • Guidance on establishing effective process flows for their QA initiatives. In these instances, a couple of board members took on individual roles to provide consultancy and aid these companies.

In early 2020, the Georgian Innovation Technology Agency launched a substantial program designed to nurture the education of 3000 specialists in the tech domain. The project aimed to deliver tuition-free courses, coupled with funding for successful exam attempts by each participant. Through close collaboration with the organizers, the board managed to integrate the QA field into this program. The program encompassed both manual and automation testing tracks. Ultimately, each participant was granted the opportunity to take ISTQB® exams with funding from the organization.

Over time, demand surged from both businesses and individuals, evident in the rising number of job openings and the growth of the board's community. This community, which originated from scratch, has now expanded to encompass 3.6K followers.

Women in Tech: A Dedicated Commitment

Diverse nations still grapple with distinct issues related to gender disparity between women and men, each with its own unique nuances. Georgia is no exception in this regard. Unfortunately, even in the present day, the board recognizes that pervasive global stereotypes regarding women's involvement in technology fields can have significant impact, particularly within certain regions. Every member of the board shares a commitment to achieving equity and is enthusiastic about supporting the empowerment of women. Thus, whenever opportunities arise to participate in projects, programs, or other initiatives that can enhance awareness and knowledge about software testing for women, the board readily engages.

While official gender gap statistics are absent in the country, the board deemed it essential to gain precise insights into the situation within the QA market, encompassing more than just gender disparities. Consequently, starting in 2020, they conducted comprehensive surveys across the entire community. The results are meticulously collected, analyzed, and subsequently shared during the annual Tester’s Day on September 9th.

In 2022, the board organized a captivating panel discussion featuring accomplished women in the testing field. These individuals shared remarkable stories spanning various age groups and diverse backgrounds, all of whom have evolved into highly sought-after specialists.

GeoSTQB has taken an active role in a number of programs dedicated to supporting women in the tech sector :

  • Notably, they aligned themselves with the Women's Empowerment Principles, a UN Women initiative aimed at advancing gender equality in workplaces, marketplaces, and communities. This program boasts over 8000 signature companies worldwide, with GeoSTQB readily joining to champion equity.
  • Another significant undertaking was the "Educate 500 Women in Tech" project, launched in 2021 and organized by UN Women, the Government of Norway, and the Business and Technology University. This initiative aimed to select beneficiaries from various regions across the country, providing education in six distinct technology fields. Participants also received instruction in the English language and the opportunity to participate in a boot camp to refine skills such as pitching, presentation preparation, and soft skills. Ultimately, the program facilitated internships and employment with partner companies. Board members actively trained beneficiaries in software testing, assisting women from regions eager to gain knowledge and entry-level education in the field.
  • The board members remained deeply engaged in a range of meetings with diverse communities, all aimed at fostering the testing profession itself and increasing awareness. This commitment translated into webinars tailored for schoolgirls interested in learning more about the profession, organized by entities like the Techgirls community, the TASO fundraising organization, and others.

GeoSTQB was nominated and became a finalist in Grace Hooper’s award category of Industry awards. This award acknowledges organizations making significant strides in the ICT industry by promoting equality, diversity, and the advancement of women in tech leadership. The Grace Hopper Awards program, launched in Georgia three years ago, is a testament to the recognition of Georgian women in ICT and the institutions fostering diversity within the field.

“Recognizing Georgian women in ICT and those programs and institutions that support and encourage diversity in the field”

- The Grace Hopper Awards

Future Plans:

Presently, the board finds itself amidst a bustling period of preparation for a significant event that has become a tradition - the annual celebration of International Tester's Day in Georgia, observed on the 9th of September. Year after year, the event becomes increasingly engaging and expansive. In the forthcoming edition, a diverse array of talks on software testing, emerging trends, practical workshops spanning six distinct subjects, dedicated company booths, and participation from individuals of varied backgrounds within the software testing domain are anticipated.

The board's strategy involves maintaining strong affiliations with organizations firmly committed to promoting gender equity and empowerment. Their intention is to remain engaged in similar initiatives and programs. Moreover, they are contemplating the launch of new ventures such as blog posts and news releases related to software testing, and potentially even podcasts. Remarkably, if time resources permit, they aspire to initiate endeavors geared towards schools as well - offering insights into the profession of a software tester.

Conclusion

GeoSTQB, continues globally recognized entity in the field of software testing qualifications, has been at the forefront of championing gender equality in the tech industry. Their work is a testament to the belief that diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords, but essential elements for innovation and growth in the technology sector. Their efforts are not only reshaping the narrative but also fostering an environment where women can thrive and excel.

GeoSTQB's commitment to closing the gender gap is evident in its numerous initiatives aimed at supporting women. They have been instrumental in creating opportunities, providing resources, and establishing platforms that empower women to succeed in the tech industry

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