Women in Tech-Where are you?
Despite strong international movements in favour of gender diversity in tech, the amount of women employees in the industry has not surpassed 20% in recent years. It is time to ask ourselves a few relevant questions. Where is this going? What are we doing about closing the gender gap?
WHAT IS GOING ON?
Even though IT is one of the industries of the future, it is not exempt from its share of “traditional” stereotypes, especially in terms of gender equality.
Women are not only under-represented in the tech sector, but also underpaid in positions of equal work and faced with everyday sexism, may it be voluntary or involuntary.
Many discussions have revolved around the male domination of the tech industry, as many companies are run almost entirely by men, whilst female role models are few and far from being equally promoted.
Before asking ourselves in what direction we are headed, let us take a looks at some of the “whys” and “whats” of the trends for women working in tech.
THE BIG QUESTION: WHY?
Extensive research shows that the gender gap in the tech industry begins in school and carries on through the following stages of women’s lives.
From an early stage, the gender stereotype of “boys being better at math and physics” strikingly discourages girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineers & maths) subjects and settle for “better suited” topics instead.
Less than 30% surveyed female students worldwide stated that they would consider a career in technology, mostly because they aren’t given enough information on what such a career direction implies. A significant lack of female role models in the field also strengthens the impression that there is no future pursuing a career in technology, the general perception being that it is “male-dominated”.
One of the most cited causes of a gender gap in the tech industry is unfairness or mistreatment in the work environment, whether it comes to promotions, raises or responsibility sharing within the team.
Moreover, a toxic work environment prone to harassment, bullying or stereotyping are severely undercutting diversification efforts.
Based on a National Science Foundation research, more women than ever are now getting their degrees in science or engineering. However, once the diploma is earned the real work begins, but less than 40% of women majored in the field are pursuing said careers, compared to over 50% of men.
This trend has been catalogued as a “leaky pipeline”: a difficulty in retaining women in STEM jobs once they have earned a STEM diploma.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR WOMEN IN IT?
Even though the current numbers are far from optimistic, there are two clear possible outcomes for women in IT: either more women enter the sector, or stagnation keeps on going.
An increasing number of tech giants such as Apple, Google and Intel have already set in motion strategies to improve the future for women in the industry.
Addressing the pay gap
Even though the gender pay gap is not as significant in the tech industry (compared to other sectors), tech giants such as Intel and Salesforce have made a pledge to provide the same wage for men and women.
Tackling the unconscious bias
A stir of the traditional mindset is required. One must break institutional, cultural and mental barriers in order to truly embrace the progression of women in the tech industry, and unconscious bias trainings are the best way to start.
Over half of the female workforce in tech is certain of the trainings’ utility to promote further equality at the workforce and set the grounds for more diversity.
Providing favourable benefits
The issue of maternity and paternity leaves has always been an issue. A family-friendly policy aiming at improving inclusion is continuously fought for and will certainly be a policy that big companies will no longer be able to overlook in the (hopefully) near future.
Additionally, over 60% of women in the tech workforce would be more than happy with increased flexibility in the work environment, both in matters of hours and location.
“No industry or country can reach its full potential until women reach their full potential. This is especially true of science and technology, where women with a surplus of talent still face a deficit of opportunity” - Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Are you a woman holding a tech-related position? This is your opportunity! Check out the speaking opportunities at the Hybrid & Multi-Cloud Summit and have your say!