Almost half the data centre workforce today has 20 years of experience or more, according to the Uptime Institute. And, despite the number of staff needed to run the world's data centres predicted to grow from around two million to nearly 2.3 million by 2025, by this time half of the industry’s existing engineering staff will retire.
The global digital infrastructure authority also stated in 2021, more than three-quarters of data centre operators surveyed said less than 10% of their staff members were women, unchanged since 2018. And just two years before, in 2019, a report on privately owned enterprise data centres found that 25% of managers surveyed had no women among their design or operational staff, with just five percent of the respondents saying women made up 50% or more of their workforce.
The industry is calling for a more diverse workforce to plug the ever-expanding skills gap. In light of this, we collate the advice from 10 women working across the data centre sector globally to highlight the success of women in the field, while also hoping to shape it into a more inclusive, prosperous environment as a result.
10. Davina Glading
Global Delivery Executive at Systal
With more than three decades behind her at IBM and a stint in the Navy, Glading has predominantly worked in male environments, like many of the women making this list.
She is a key advocate for the industry and those working in it embracing the different learning styles and methods that come with employing a varied workforce. As an example, she said: “This will benefit not only women but also everyone in the business. Where men tend to be more strongly visual and tactile in their learning style, women are strong aurally. As we continually move toward a more inclusive and diverse workforce, we must ensure equity in these styles for everyone.
“Having a mix on your team ensures all your angles are covered.”
Addressing the virtual audience at Data Centre LIVE in May 2023, Flucker said: “Diversity and inclusion isn’t just about gender or one issue; there are so many different types of diversity and I think we really need to open up the conversation to think about how we’re dealing with different minorities.” Stressing that despite strides needing to be taken to get women into the data centre workforce, Flucker pressed that DE&I needs to span further than just getting more of a certain gender or sex into the space — this includes those from disadvantaged backgrounds, a variety of ages and the likes of races, ethnicities, religions and cultures , as well as sexual orientations, abilities and disabilities.
A key driver in the industry’s pursuit of net zero, Laina is an experienced environmental professional with extensive experience in consulting, policy analysis and research. Also speaking at Data Centre LIVE, Laina’s keynote Connected Planet: Our net zero commitment focused on the industry’s commitment to net zero and the value of reducing emissions from operations among other sustainability topics.
One of the main things she focused on and feels strongly about sharing with the industry is the importance of reporting sustainability progress transparently. With greenwashing being an issue in all industries, Laina stressed the importance of ensuring sustainability practices aren’t reduced to being a tick box exercise. “How do we make sure that over the course of time we use more and more granular information for reporting our progress and we are transparent towards key internal and voluntary external stakeholders?” she asked the virtual audience regarding working toward net zero.
“What we would like to understand in more detail is how we are moving forward towards meeting this commitment.”
Working in the hyperscale space, DiMambro is fixated on future technologies and facilitating them by investing in high performance. “I believe hyperscalers will continue to dominate the data centre industry, but with growth in the colocation/developer market,” she told Data Centre Magazine for the October edition. And with that, she is passionate about respecting the geography these massive business-critical facilities are situated in.
From DiMambro’s viewpoint, the future of hyperscale data centres will be shaped by how they are situated in relation to urban cores and the related tax incentives and policies. “We are focusing on how we can better integrate hyperscale data centres into an urban environment with considerations for transportation and accessibility, as well as the ways we can physically design these facilities to better integrate into the fabric of a city,” she said, in the hopes that others will consider the same onward journey.
Daniell, who studied law and worked in construction before entering the data centre space, works closely with local schools to encourage young people from all backgrounds to consider careers in data centres and STEM subjects. And even though she helps nurture the industry’s future talent, she also advocates for cross-industry collaboration and the importance of partnerships.
“Partnerships are at the forefront of our business practice,” she told Data Centre Magazine. “Trust is key. It’s a matter of building a strong supply chain and collaborating with them to achieve our goals of delivering excellence in service, on time and on budget, sustainably.”
A trailblazer in helping establish a network of data centres across regional and rural Australia in a bid to combat digital inequity and issues with connectivity, Ryder is an advocate for the workforce of the future to include the bright minds of women and girls.
“We must start by inspiring girls in school to pursue STEM courses – school curricula need to include engaging and relevant STEM activities which are fun for girls, like low-code app development and robotics,” she said. “By also offering extra-curricular STEM programs for girls only, they are much more likely to be engaged and inspired, leading them to consider STEM careers.”
She emphasised that data centre executives need to understand why gender diversity is crucial and subsequently actively recruit women from university and for leadership roles, despite their industry experience. Sponsorship and mentorship programmes are something else Ryder feels passionately about serving a purpose for the data centre industry, which will provide the necessary for those wishing to enter the space. “It can be challenging to be in a minority,” she continued. “By showcasing women in the industry, young women will be able to ‘see it and be it’.
“Finally, I can’t stress enough how important it is to foster a welcoming environment that empowers women of all life stages with educational opportunities and career support so they can inspire more women to join the industry,” she concluded.
In conversation with Data Centre Magazine in her previous role at NTT GDC as VP Design, Construction and Supply Chain, Miller shared how she is laying the foundations to inspire more women to follow a career in data centre, and specifically, construction.
Despite advocating for ease of access and provision to aid entry for women and other minorities into what is typically a male and ageing working data centre workforce, Miller stresses that taking the plunge as an individual is one of the most important things. “Getting involved is the best advice I have for other females,” she said, pointing out there are a number of organisations that are effective in giving women a leg-up.
“I believe mentorship, breaking cultural norms and intentionally reaching out will help to create a more diverse industry. We’re making strides but we do have a long way to go.”
A stellar advocate for sustainability in the data centre industry and beyond, Kass is a consistent voice across the sector lobbying for collaboration — despite competition between competitors — toward the common goal of a more sustainable, greener future.
At Cloud & 5G LIVE in October, Kass continued to highlight the impact of the industry on climate change and pressing global challenges — whether that be rising fuel costs, resource scarcity, AI —championing how new technologies have risen to attention in our world. She gave insight into how AI can be harnessed to accelerate the delivery of climate positive impact results for a carbon free economy.
“AI is absolutely an important technology,” she said. “We need to use it, we need to respect it. It is an amazing powerful technology that can accelerate and disrupt.” She called for the audience to join her on the onward journey, acknowledging that a sustainable future is something that can only be achieved collectively together.
An engineer with a lifelong fascination with the application of science in solving complex challenges — with bonus points if sustainability quotas are also met — Mullick is also a champion of women in data centre and wider engineering circles.
In an interview with Data Centre Magazine following her appointment at Iceotope, Mullick called for the importance of cooling technology, specially the liquid kind, to be acknowledged, harnessed and utilised.
Highlighting how sustainability is not just a buzzword and how it also results in efficient solutions, she holds the torch for there being multiple benefits to emerging technologies.
“The market increasingly recognises the importance of liquid cooling technology for addressing the challenges of data centre efficiency and sustainability,” she said.
“By delivering these benefits, we can contribute to the achievement of net-zero emission goals by the data centre industry.”
“Data centres are the foundations of the global digital landscape and building critical infrastructure with respect for our planet and its people is essential,” Brown said. And for that reason, she is an advocate in all areas encompassed by ESG, including giving back to communities.
“STACK is factoring in local biodiversity as part of our basis of design,” she championed. “This means looking to incorporate low-maintenance green facades which cover the building with native species of vegetation. It's very attractive for the aesthetics of an industrial area and attracts wildlife as well. Conservation efforts with campus beehives is another initiative we’re particularly proud of.”
This is a cause Brown is passionate about and hopes is adopted throughout the industry.
Other magazines that may be of interest - Mobile Magazine.
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