By WiFi HiFi
The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Karen Rowden, Manager, North American Strategic Marketing Group, Epson
Name: Karen Rowden
Job Title: Manager, North America Strategic Marketing Group, Epson
Years in the Industry: 25
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “…. Because we all have wings…” It’s a lyric that reminds me to follow my passions, enjoy life, be the best I can be, and to support others in finding their own wings.
What drew you to a career in consumer electronics?
It was the first job offer I had out of school. I expected to stay in the industry for a year or two to get some work experience and then find something a little more mainstream. But I loved the job and the people I worked with and never looked back.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
Early on in my career, the organization I was working for was investigated for discrimination against women. I may have been too naïve to see these roadblocks at the time. It never crossed my mind that being a woman would limit my opportunities. We’ve come a long way. It’s not about roadblocks any more. It’s about inspiring and supporting women to really fulfill their potential.
What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
Women shine at building relationships, communicating, and networking individuals and teams together. And we also bring a sense of balance to the workplace – family is important. Things need to be good at home if we are to excel at work.
Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs in order to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?
The tech industry has some pretty savvy female leaders. We need to ensure we have forums for these women to shine and be highly visible role models. We need to continue to create coaching, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?
It’s a lot of fun. It’s challenging, it’s rewarding, and I couldn’t imagine working in a more exciting field than technology.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you? If so, why? If not, why do you feel that is?
Absolutely. There are many very talented women in the industry now that are great role models. Many years ago, I belonged to a small Women in Tech group. It was an emerging industry at the time with only a handful of women working in tech, and we all knew each other. It was a very supportive group, and many of these women went on to accomplish great things in tech. One the most inspiring people I’ve had the privilege to work for is Julia Carrescia. She was Toshiba ISG’s first female vice president in North America. I learned from Julia that I could still be effective and get the job done without having to be a hard-ass to compete with the men.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
We are at the point now where it’s not about if you are a man or a woman – it’s about being the right person for the job.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
Yes! What an exciting time to be in tech! There are so many new ways that tech is enabling us to improve and enjoy our lives – the connected home, entertainment, transportation, travel, health, social interaction. I can’t wait to see what opportunities and cool things each new year will bring.