Diversity is essential within any industry to open a company up to a wider pool of talent and employees with varied experiences and opinions. However, industries such as technology, where women only make up 16% of the workforce, are still very male-dominated. Fortunately, over the last few years, Women in Technology communities have become more vocal and are striving to make a difference within the industry.
We recently worked with Ivanti to develop and distribute its second annual Women in Tech report, a survey of over 800 women about their experiences and priorities working in the industry. Our work helped the survey achieve eight pieces of UK coverage within leading UK technology and HR titles, including Computer Weekly, and 83 pieces of coverage globally.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement and the increased awareness of diversity in all its forms, it may be surprising to hear that Ivanti’s survey found that the glass ceiling is still a large factor in the careers of many women in tech. In fact, 31% cite it as a key challenge they face. So, the question that remains is: how do we get more women excited about and working within the technology industry?
Many suggest that a crucial step forward would be to encourage more school-age girls to pursue STEM subjects and take their education further. Shockingly, only 30% of women study a STEM subject at university, compared to 52% of men, and just 3% perceive technology as their first choice career. One way to achieve this is by ensuring that there are female role models in the industry for young women to look up to and aspire to. Representation is key and seeing what other successful women, similar to themselves, have achieved and having vocal spokespeople for the women in tech movement will undoubtedly encourage more ambitious women into the industry.
Level the playing field
Another important change that must be made is ensuring that men and women are on an equal footing. According to Ivanti’s research, the biggest challenge for over half of women in tech is not being taken seriously due to gender perceptions, and a close second is the gender pay gap. With equal pay legislation having been around for 50 years this is a shocking reality, and you only have to look back to the controversial BBC gender pay gap story that broke in 2018 to see this in practice.
Some pay inequality could be attributed to the fact that there are more men in positions of leadership in technology companies than women. This slower progression may be due to negative gender perceptions, such as that men better possess leadership qualities or that women are more likely to take a career break. However, with initiatives such as shared parental leave becoming more prevalent and the growing availability of flexible working there is no reason why this should be the case.
The technology industry is at the forefront of development and digital transformation in many senses; however, it can be seen to lag behind when it comes to gender diversity. While the women in tech movement is making progress, companies need to support its goal by implementing business initiatives to support and develop their female employees, as well as attract new women into the fray.
By Holly A.