Why I’m advocating for women in SEO

Zara MacGregor, Business Director at Iris Worldwide, on ditching the stereotypes and embracing equality for women in technology

Zara MacGregor

Business Director Iris Worldwide


Digital marketing is dominated by men. Get further into the industry and so is SEO. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, women make up only 28% of the workforce in computer and mathematical occupations and in 2022, women on average earned 92% of what men earned. Whether that’s because women have been previously branded as ‘bad with numbers’, ‘not data minded’, or 'unable to handle the pressure’, I can’t say, but I for one am keen to break those stereotypes and bring up a chair for all women to have a seat at the table.

My own experience shows the impact of the lack of women in the field. I've seen clients infantilise women, being ignored during a football joke, to be given a handbag analogy instead to help them understand. Women favour discussion and feedback, but from my experience this can be twisted in the workplace to mean ‘not confident’, which is not the same thing.

Attitudes in the workplace are changing however, with 61% of people surveyed by Women in Technical SEO saying that their organisations are actively working on improving the gender balance in this field.

But why is this so important? The outcomes will mean the increased visibility of women in the industry, and by doing so I firmly believe we will see an increase in the overall quality of work we’re producing in this field.

Diverse teams facilitate innovation, they drive better teamwork and increase potential for collaboration - all qualities that lead to great work being delivered to clients.

Women favour discussion and feedback, but from my experience this can be twisted in the workplace to mean ‘not confident’, which is not the same thing.

Zara MacGregor, Business Director at Iris Worldwide

Diversity brings innovation and fresh perspectives 

Diversity brings fresh perspectives, and that's crucial to innovation. Whether in business, education, or society as a whole, when individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences come together, they bring with them unique perspectives and ideas that can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

Unique perspectives and ideas within the workplace also help to eliminate groupthink. Groupthink is a phenomenon where people tend to conform to the dominant ideas and opinions of the group, leading to decisions and ideas which often overlook common sense and set aside critical thinking. People act in fear of expressing an unpopular or ‘wrong’ opinion.

It can be hard to subvert this however, especially if you’re a woman. Surveys have shown that 76% of women experienced gender bias or discrimination in the workplace at least once, and the sad thing is that % has increased in comparison to a similar survey run in 2019. Expressing unpopular opinions can be really daunting under that cloud.

However, by leading and working in a team that embraces diversity and allows fresh perspectives to shine without fear of reprisal, you can tap into a wealth of knowledge and life experience, leading to innovation, creativity and ultimately, better services and results.

By bringing women into male-dominated industries, companies can ensure that their products and services are more inclusive and representative of the population.

Zara MacGregor, Business Director at Iris Worldwide

Better teamwork and collaboration 

One of our highly valued clients in the agency sells a breast pump. Traditionally serviced by a team of men, with gender equality at the forefront of the company's minds, more women, and young women are coming into the workplace. When a woman joined this team, she brought new perspectives and ideas to the table, resulting in the team testing new ad-text for the product which are now top performers.

Although a singular example, it points to a broader point that women make up half of the population, and their perspectives and experiences are important for creating products and services that meet the needs of all customers. By bringing women into male-dominated industries, companies can ensure that their products and services are more inclusive and representative of the population. This, of course, works in the reverse too, it’s just a much rarer example.

Women also tend to be great collaborators. I don’t want to stray too far into generalisation as it is important to remember that individual differences and situational factors can also play a significant role. However, studies have shown that companies with more women in leadership positions have higher levels of job satisfaction and retention, potentially because of the prioritisation of culture, values and employee well-being.

Advocating for women at work is therefore not only the right thing to do, but it can also lead to a variety of benefits for the workplace and the company as a whole. Improved diversity and inclusion, increased productivity and creativity, improved business outcomes, and reduced workplace discrimination to create a more positive and successful workplace for everyone. 

Domino effect of mentorship and networking, leading to more opportunities 

A recent survey by Women in Tech highlights the issues women are still facing within the industry. The research revealed that 22% of people think the main reason people are being put off from a career in Tech is early misconceptions and lack of education.

Building up careers for women in SEO can encourage mentorship and networking opportunities that will create more female role models in the industry and will bring more awareness for aspiring women to see this job as an attractive and inclusive career option.

As more women enter the field, we should be sharing our experiences and offering guidance to other aspiring women. By showcasing our diversity and talents, we can empower other women to pursue the careers they want, not just the careers that have made space for them.

By embracing diversity, promoting equality, and encouraging mentorship and networking, we can create a thriving industry. It's time to break the stereotypes.

Guest Author

Zara MacGregor

Business Director Iris Worldwide


Zara leads Digital activity for Samsung throughout Europe working across SEO, Content, Social, Data, and CRO. Although currently focussed on a technology brand, she has worked across multiple sectors from baby names to bathroom appliances! Zara has been working in Digital for over 10 years and was recently shortlisted for Organic Team of the Year by The Drum. She leads a team of 10, 8 women, 1 of whom was recently shortlisted for Rising Star at the European Search Awards. Zara is currently focussed on building up the careers of women in Digital and supporting the longevity of those careers though initiatives such as closing the Gender Pay Gap and Fertility / IVF support at work.

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