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Although the female share of the tech industry labour force is higher than it once was, it’s still less than it should be. Globally, women fill fewer than a third of the roles in technologies such as cloud computing, data and artificial intelligence.
That’s not fair to all those tech-talented women out there—or to all those tech companies that could be benefitting from their talents.
Despite a tech hiring spree fuelled by the widespread uptake of emerging technologies during the pandemic, women benefitted less than men. The gender gap remains stubbornly entrenched, as the pandemic actually aggravated gender inequality thanks to the fact that more women than men left or were forced to leave their jobs to assume primary caregiving responsibilities.
Many of the hurdles faced by women in the technology sector are rooted in socially and systemically enforced gender roles and norms. These deep-rooted beliefs foster unconscious (and often very conscious) biases. Those biases need to be addressed and disarmed—for the benefit of women and tech companies alike.
Transformers of the World, Unite
Women have a key role to play in this transformation, of course, but we cannot solve the problem alone. If we are to tackle the under-representation of women in tech, we need to instigate conversations with business leaders and make clear to them the untapped value that women could be bringing to technology roles, from the executive suite to the developers’ cluttered work stations. Company leaders must also understand that they have a major role to play in this transformation.
There are plenty of sources to turn to for ideas, perspectives and inspiration. Influential female-led communities such as Women in Tech – Global Movement, WomenTech Network and Women Who Code are animated by passionate, talented women working to break down barriers that hold women in check and deprive technology companies of their talents. The mission of these communities is to empower women through leadership development, professional growth, mentorship, and networking events while creating and offering openly accessible educational resources.
Be a Change Agent
The transformation begins with an honest willingness to be more inclusive and promote a diverse workforce. Building an authentically inclusive culture requires commitment and tenacity. Every company’s culture is different, so every company’s journey will be different.
But there are three key steps every ally of women in tech should take:
1. Raise Your Voice
Advocate for women in hiring processes, promotion decisions, and in your daily work. Make sure women’s voices, insights and experiences are heard in meetings and other decision-making forums.
2. Be Consistent in Your Support
Speak about women’s empowerment and encouragement when they’re in the room and also when they’re not. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
3. Elevate Others
We all benefit from hearing and sharing relatable, real-life success stories. Never miss an opportunity to recognise the successes of women in tech, or to promote women as leaders and role models in their field.
Close the Gender Gap and Open the Talent Gate
Working on innovations that improve our lives with like-minded people can provide incredible job satisfaction, and women should not miss out on fulfilling careers in technology. They should be encouraged to explore all opportunities the sector has to offer. But transforming this male-dominated industry will require resilience and determination because women continue to be judged on variables that have nothing to do with their competency or their ability to lead.
Re-balancing the gender equation in tech is the key to creating a work environment that celebrates and supports diversity. McKinsey’s Diversity wins: How inclusion matters report highlights that businesses with more gender-diverse executive teams are 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability. In addition to financial gain, the McKinsey report also links greater female representation to higher performance compared to organisations with fewer or no female executives.
The challenge is as clear as it is non-negotiable. It won’t be easy, but when are worthwhile things ever easy? Women need to advocate tirelessly—while at the same time soliciting the commitment of all those male tech leaders—to make technology roles accessible to women, promote their acquisition of necessary skills, champion successful female role models, and show the technology industry that it has everything to gain by closing the gap and opening the gate.