Women in Tech: Bridging the Gender Gap
Women in Tech: Bridging the Gender Gap
Worrying studies reveal that women make up only 19% of the tech industry’s workforce; under-represented at every level of the industry compared to their male counterparts. The disparity is at its most severe when it comes to senior management positions, with women filling only 12.6% of board member roles. Whilst gender inequality is prevalent across most industries, these numbers fall alarmingly short, especially when compared to the 30% of women who are board members in FTSE 100 businesses.
It seems there are many workplace hurdles for women in tech to navigate, with Time Recruitment reporting that more than half of the women who break into tech end up leaving for a different sector entirely. Poor working culture was cited as the main reason for leaving, coupled also with isolation, poor management or bullying. Time Recruitment reported that many women feel they receive little to no feedback, and few opportunities to advance their career.
It has long been proven that diversity across industry, especially at boardroom level, is good for business as well as the wider society. As observed in HR Review (https://www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/women-in-tech-feel-the-industry-is-closing-doors-at-the-recruitment-stage/116215), the UK’s technology sector is growing rapidly, currently valued at £184 billion in 2018 and employing 1.1 million people. The time to reset this disparity is now.
So what can be done to address the imbalance, as well as the glaring deterrents women face? Here are three ways companies can bridge the gap and champion for the success of women in tech.
Promote Inclusivity and Raise Awareness
There are many tech companies pioneering ways to help women break into the industry, marking the shift from a male-dominated industry into one of equality. As well as mentoring, progressive companies are creating women’s network communities, volunteer opportunities, Women in Technology programmes, women leadership schemes, International Women’s Day events, Woman of the Month initiatives and various other empowerment groups. Emma Grant, from DigitalHer, said: “One of the ways we can help make a change in the tech industry is by inspiring more young women to consider careers in the industry. It’s essential we enable young women, allowing them to develop the skills and mindsets they need to succeed.” At the root of addressing the issue is the way women are encouraged into the tech industry, how their development is invested in and how their success is advocated.
Eliminating gender-based disparity starts with proactively evaluating and rephrasing the language used to speak to candidates and employees. Traditional tech job descriptions are often advertised using overly masculine language, proven to deter qualified women. Vodafone recently piloted a programme to replace ‘masculine’ words such as win, aggressive, kick and outstanding with more neutral alternatives such as bold, top-tier, extraordinary and improve. (https://www.ft.com/content/87586758-99a0-11e8-88de-49c908b1f264) This simple initiative led to a 7% increase in women being hired across the company in the space of just three months. Other companies are known to tackle possible bias during the recruitment process by removing names and genders from applications. Many companies are beginning to make a point of shortlisting more women than previously, particularly a senior role, significantly increasing the chances of a woman landing the role.
Workplace Support and Community
It is important for managers to create a workplace that enables women to develop professionally in their roles. As a new era of workers takes over the workforce, companies must take proactive measures to create a culture of inclusion, actively investing in employees to prevent them from feeling isolated. To this end, some companies have launched internal women-focused groups. Dynamic Signal, for example, has a strong female leadership team with an impressive 40% of the executive department made up of women. An Le, Dynamic Signal COO, says it’s her mission to continue driving this development by encouraging women to recommend female peers and counterparts for new roles, ensuring there are women in leadership roles at all levels.
Grant Dove from Forward Role said “We all have to work hard to encourage more diversity and grow our industry into one that we can be really proud of as it changes and evolves. There will be many barriers to overcome in the next few years, but the future looks bright for women in tech.”