IWD 2023: Linktree’s Jessica Box on being a female leader in STEM


“How can you know what opportunities look like if you can’t see them? We need to get much better at this.”

International Women’s Day aims to shine a light on gender inequality within the workforce, celebrate women’s achievements and increase visibility.

In Australia, the STEM-skilled workforce has a disproportionate under-representation of women compared to other industries, with women making up only 16% of the STEM workforce.

Mediaweek spoke to Jessica Box, senior director of product insights and analytics at Linktree and former managing director at Girls in Tech Australia, about the biggest industry issues and being a female leader in tech. 

This International Women’s day, what do you want to shine a light on in relation to women in STEM?

Given this year’s theme from the UN is DigitALL, I’m really focused on shining a light on the digital gender gap and inequality for women and girls. The UN estimates the lack of access women experience to getting online will cause a $1.5 trillion loss to low and middle-income countries by 2025 if action isn’t taken.
I’m passionate about this and carry it through my work with Linktree and board positions and previous role driving Girls in Tech Australia, which involved leading a community of young women and equipping them with the tools they need to venture into tech.

What is one of the biggest industry issues on your mind, and in your opinion, how can they be solved or achieved?

The challenge I see in the tech industry for women in particular, is the dearth of women in leadership positions. Of course, this stems from underrepresentation, which we know given women are only on 34% of ASX 200 boards. The concept of “you can’t be what you can’t see” is something I always share with people I mentor and also with wider leadership teams in the companies I work with. How can you know what opportunities look like if you can’t see them? We need to get much better at this.

What initiatives does Linktree offer to support women?

Linktree is really passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. In fact, I led the forming of our DEIB council when I joined in 2020 to create initiatives across our team and how we build the product to ensure all voices are heard and included.

We offer a range of programs, but the one I am most proud of is our parental, pregnancy loss and miscarriage leave. Inclusive of both birthing and non-birthing parents, our 18-week parental leave policy is designed to help enable everyone at Linktree to support their families and ease the transition back to work.
Many of my team members and colleagues have taken this offer up and have been able to enjoy the important family time with ease, while knowing that Linktree is supporting them.

As a female leader in tech, what’s been the best advice you have received?

The best advice I’ve received is “run fast and break things.” It was said to me by a male champion early in my career who has continued to champion me in any room he enters. What this advice meant to me was to never set a ceiling for myself and always push for greatness. I have taken this on throughout my career (it’s particularly helpful in startup and scale-up environments) and regularly push for the same in others.

Since being in the industry, what have you noticed the biggest changes have been?

The biggest shift I’ve seen has happened during and post the pandemic, which is a move to people thinking of work as a component of their life, no longer their whole life. The toxic “hustle” culture mentality is beginning to be challenged and dissipated entirely in some company cultures. People are now measured on output, rather than time spent, and I think this is particularly important for creating diverse and inclusive workplaces where women have the space to take their children to daycare, school, and appointments, while still delivering exactly what’s expected of them in their work life. We see this really progressing in tech, but I think other industries where remote work is more challenging are going to take a bit longer.

What advice do you have for women in the industry who are looking to excel?

There are three areas I love to share advice on:
1. Form your network – you don’t need to always have formal mentors; often, the network you build and rely on is even more important.
2. Know your worth – hold true to your personal values in a professional context, back yourself and never settle.
3. Give back – as women in tech, it’s critical we bring the next generation up with us. Give your time to support those who need it.

See also: IWD 2023: How the world has changed and what’s still left to do

Top image: Jessica Box

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