It is no secret on Women’s Equality day that the tech industry is male-dominated and that there are still large disparities when it comes to gender representation
Women’s Equality Day is a great time to draw attention to this and display how companies can be more accommodating to women moving forward.
“Today it symbolises the widespread barriers women face (and break down!) on a day-to-day basis – whether large or small,” states Claire Hughes, HR Business Partner at Totalmobile.
Year on year we are slowly creeping closer to becoming a more inclusive industry, but we still have a long way to go.
Gender imbalance and female representation in the workplace
“There are many industries that could still benefit from a greater degree of gender diversity, especially ones which have traditionally been seen as male-dominated, such as science and technology,” explains Hughes. However, to increase this diversity, employers need to take into account practical steps, such as “introducing flexible working hours to aid working parents, involving women in the recruitment process, supporting pay transparency and encouraging female role models and better decision making by having a diverse executive team.”
“In 2021, tech roles held by women increased by a mere 2%,” states Caroline Seymour, VP of Product Marketing at Zerto. “To fix the gender gap issue we need realistic initiatives that can be easily implemented today, such as: creating gender-neutral job descriptions, ensuring women are part of the interviewing team, ensuring that interview rounds include diverse candidates, conducting regular pay equity reviews to attract and retain candidates, offering mentorship and advancement programs, and regularly evaluating hiring and promotion processes to eliminate bias.
“To make change happen we need to implement progressive strategies that result in women being hired into tech roles,” Seymour said. “I encourage women to build strong networks of men and women. We can all help each other and learn from each other. We must also actively mentor young girls and encourage them to pursue STEM studies in higher education. Solving gender disparity in the workplace is not a one-sided solution. Diversity of thought is invaluable to any company and should be something we all work hard to achieve.”
At the root of representation in the workplace is the employers themselves. “Organisations are under pressure to adopt impactful diversity, equity and inclusion policies, and rightfully so,” explains Svenja de Vos, CTO, Leaseweb Global. “It’s good that many organisations have managed to shift priorities to accommodate these needs, however, there continues to be persistent gaps overall and where it’s important. According to research by Mckinsey & Company, organisations have achieved improved women’s representation across the board, however, there is still a significant gender imbalance as promotions to leadership roles are not equitable, and women of colour continue to lack representation at every level.”
Uplifting women through Women’s Equality Day
“Women’s Equality Day is a brilliant time to draw attention to the opportunities available to women in the technology sector,” says Samantha Thorne, Head of People at Node4. “At Node4, we place significant importance on helping girls and women imagine the possibilities and career paths available to them. During their careers with us, we ensure women are supported and empowered through participation in leadership programmes to help them reach their full potential. We understand the need to increase the number of women in senior positions to provide female role models for others and we continue to evolve our policies, benefits and culture to ensure their full and equal participation in the workplace.”
Joy Ravenhall, Marketing Director at Tax Systems, also believes female role models are important to prospective employees. “It is essential that women have role models to look up to in every industry and this is what is currently lacking in the accounting and tax sectors. Businesses must make all areas of their working environment open to women – from entry level to the boardroom. Without this clear progression to strive for, it is easy for women to feel demotivated within their careers. It creates male-dominated environments that many women do not want to be a part of and the lack of role models makes reaching these heights on the career ladder seem near-impossible.”
Lucy Zhang, Senior Graphic Designer at Plutora, believes it is important for women to support women. “In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles that many women face in the workplace is making meaningful connections, especially in the tech industry because there are not enough of us. Working with someone you can identify with is something that women unfortunately rarely get to experience in a space dominated by men.
“I love it when women in our industry take an active role in connecting with other women as colleagues and mentors,” Zhang adds. “I owe a lot to the mentors who helped me get to where I am today as they challenged me never to lose sight of the fresh perspective I bring to the table. Mentorship can be a great asset for women’s careers if we foster those connections. But it can’t just be women helping women, everyone must contribute.
“Women’s Equality Day is about uplifting each other and making sure all women have the tools and opportunities to succeed. It’s not a zero sum game, we’re all in this together to make space for diversity. When we do, we all win.”
What companies can do to conquer gender bias
“One of the main barriers to women’s equality in tech is attracting talent in the first place,” states Anne Tiedemann, Glasswall’s SVP People and Investor Relations. “At Glasswall, we aim to break down this barrier through early education in software development skills, exposure to the industry, and increased flexibility in working practices. There is often still a discriminatory nature of hiring within tech – many job postings are written in such a way that is off-putting to many potential female applicants. Ensuring that our job adverts are more inclusive and gender-neutral is an important step forward in the market. And showcasing the contribution our women are making at the company not only encourages more women to apply, but highlights role models and leaders in the industry.”
Once women are in the tech sector, it is important to maintain the talent pipeline. Giana Driver, CHRO, Exabeam, outlines that “promotion rates are not equitable and women continue to lose representation at all levels of the career ladder. Organisations need to remain vigilant and intentional to create healthy, diverse, thriving cultures; this entails actively investing in the growth and psychological safety of all employees. Embracing learning, normalising mistake-making and listening go a long way toward cultivating environments conducive to empathy and the celebration of diversity.”
Individual companies are taking proactive actions to ensure the workplace is more inclusive. For example, Aqilla’s cloud-based accounting platform removes some of the admin burdens on women in the industry. Hugh Scantlebury, CEO & Founder of Aqilla explains: “Freeing up more time to focus on higher value tasks, putting women in good stead for well-deserved promotions, or simply offering more flexibility to working mothers, we are very proud of our record in having a diverse and equal community. In fact, our 2022 ‘Big Number’ analysis showed that our customer base has a gender balance of almost 50/50. If every business took action to make changes in their workplace, we could see a huge and much-needed change in the industry.”
The gender gap in the tech workplace is moving in the right direction, but we still have a way to go. Rhys Sharp, Solution Director – Portfolio, Six Degrees, concludes: “The big tech companies need to lead the way, as they have strong and loyal partner communities that will follow their lead.