Women in Tech® is an international non-profit organization on a mission to close the gender gap and to help women embrace technology. We promote girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world, with a focus on Sustainable Development Goal 5b: harnessing technologies.
The main reason for the small number of women in technology is due. To the lack of role models for women within the sector. And this is mainly down to the gender stereotype of ‘boys being better at science and maths. Another reason for there being so few women in technology is due to the lack of a talent pool.
A 2020 study by the AnitaB.org Institute found that women make up 28.8% of the tech workforce, a steady increase from the past few years — 25.9% in 2018 and 26.2% in 2019. The latest study analyzed data on more than half a million U.S. technologists at 51 participating companies.
Women in Tech Back
Maximum folks have heard the information: simplest 25% of expert computing occupations in the U.S. Are held by means of ladies, and ladies maintain simply 28% of STEM jobs in trendy. The latter is a variety that’s gotten increasing attention in recent years. It’s additionally quite a number that’s infrequently budged for decades.
Even women make up 47% of the U.S. hard work pressure as a whole. They’re vastly underrepresented in the era—a developing industry representing 10% of the countrywide financial system. And presenting nearly double the countrywide median wage. In different words, the above statistics represent a misplace opportunity for lots of women.
As an industry of change
As an industry of change, generation additionally has a huge impact on most people’s lives. when the humans making the selections and constructing the products are by and large guys, it isn’t just ladies running within the enterprise who lose out—it is women at huge.
So what’s taking place here? And what may be achieved approximately it? I sat down with three woman tech leaders: Emily Yale, a senior statistics scientist at shape safety; Lekisha Middleday-to-dayn, a career train, and community manager at Tech women; and Sheekha Singh, an every day everyday guarantee engineer at Artisan Studios and the author of “The IT girl: 3 Steps day-to-day discover profession options for girls in Tech.” We mentioned a number of the key troubles within the tech enterprise today and what can be done every day to solve them.
First Problem: A Skewed Hiring Process
In order to be hired into a tech job, women have to first go through the application and interview process. That’s easier said than done. Despite many companies’ efforts to recruit more diverse talent—including more women—research shows it’s natural for people to tend to hire candidates who are more like them. It’s called “affinity bias”—and when 75% of executive and senior positions in tech are held by men, that can put women at a serious disadvantage during hiring even when good intentions are at play.
Affinity bias can also start long before the interview, as job descriptions tend to reflect the backgrounds of the people who already hold, or have already held, these positions—which leaves little room for diversity. For example, surveys have shown that many top technology companies prefer candidates from top-tier or Ivy League universities—even when data suggest those candidates may not be of higher quality.
While this example may not put women at a disadvantage specifically, it is clear that highly specific job descriptions serve to bring the same kinds of people through the door.
“I think a lot of places put out job descriptions that are a laundry list of requirements, even with entry-level positions,” Yale said. “Right off the bat, we have cut down the number of candidates we might consider because we put up those barriers in terms of the application.”
How to Solve It
Hiring is one of these fowl-or-egg issues; while fewer women follow, fewer are employed. That results in fewer girls in hiring positions within the enterprise, and on it is going. As an end result, there are two sides to this answer. The primary is that companies want to make extra of a concerted effort to attain female candidates (in addition to a more numerous set of candidates from all varieties of backgrounds!).
That in all likelihood method assessing their hiring techniques, how and where they’re posting jobs, and the way they’re recruiting talent. It in all likelihood also means searching out boundaries to access that would be helping to maintain a greater homogeneous recruiting pool.
The other side of the solution lies with women themselves.
“Statistically, women don’t apply for jobs they don’t have every requirement for,” Middleton said. A survey of LinkedIn users found women take a more cautious approach to job hunting and are far less likely than men to apply for roles that are more senior to their current role. That needs to change.
Singh argues that, in addition to a lack of confidence, many women aren’t sure what skills and/or qualifications are required for a job in tech—and many assume the ability to code is a requirement. “Based on my research, girls think that tech is all about coding,” Singh said. “You could be a great manager or a great designer but women don’t know how to use those talents in tech.”
In other words, women need to look beyond what they may have been told, or led to believe, about tech and look for how their skills could fit into these roles. Employers can help here by making this more clear to potential applicants.
Second Problem: A Lack of a Strong Pipeline of Women in STEM Fields
According to Middleton, the lack of women working in tech can also be attributed to the school and university pipelines that should be feeding qualified female applicants into these positions. Studies show that isn’t happening.
Although girls take math and science courses in roughly equal numbers to boys, fewer women pursue majors in these areas in the university. By graduation, women earn only 20% of bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. Female representation continues to decline through more advanced degrees and in the transition to the workplace.
“In the Western part of the world, and maybe the world in general. It’s assumed that girls are better at liberal arts and if they do go into sciences it tends not to be tech, but nursing,” Middleton said. “That interest in tech starts very early on.”
How to Solve It
The number of women in university STEM programs is growing, but companies with an eye toward making a change could do more to support this. Corporate mentoring programs, especially those that include women where possible, can help to retain more women in the profession.
Colleges need to be mindful of their role here as well—if they don’t have female faculty in STEM programs, they’ll likely be less able to create an environment that helps female students feel they belong.
Programs—and entry-level college courses—that teach young women about tech jobs have also been shown to help boost retention of women in these fields.
Third Problem: Lack of Support for Working Parents
The COVID-19 pandemic created all kinds of problems for working people. But one thing it revealed very clearly is how vulnerable women are to the impact that caregiving, whether for children or aging parents, had on their jobs. According to a survey by TrustRadius, women were most likely to take on additional caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic; 29% said they had taken on a greater childcare burden compared to 19% of men.
Forty-three percent of women also said they had taken on extra responsibilities at work compared to 33% of men respondents. As a result of the additional stress, more than 1.2 million people exited the workforce in 2020; 900,000 of them were women.
- “Empathy is a big thing that is missing,” Middleton said. “Some companies rose to the occasion, but other companies were poster children for what not to do.”
- This has already had a devastating impact on women’s contributions in the workplace; but it also revealed a pre-existing problem: many workplaces don’t make accommodations for working parents.
- “The ability to support flexible work schedules is really important,” Yale said. “What we found [during the pandemic] is that women were disproportionately affected by them.”
- Plus, while COVID-19 was an unfortunate and unforeseeable event, some of the things that occurred, as a result, were largely systemic. Parental discrimination, for example, disproportionately fell on women.
- “My colleagues who had kids at home would have their managers micromanaging them,” Singh said. “Nobody asked me what I did and how much work I finished but this person’s stand-up status would be completely different.”
How to Solve It
The United States has one of the worst parental support systems in the world, including no paid federal maternity leave, lack of affordable childcare, and lack of other forms of parental and caregiver support. Studies have shown that paid parental leave increases women’s participation in the workforce—and may even reduce the gender pay gap.
Research from European countries, which outspend the United States in terms of annual public spending on early childhood care by 10 to 40 times, has shown that these policies have had a marked effect on the number of women in the workforce.
It’s no wonder workplaces aren’t supporting parents and caregivers—the lack of support at the federal level likely sets the tone. Even so, employers can—and should—step up here. While supporting parents and caregivers has a cost, several studies also suggest improvements in employee retention may outweigh the cost of paid leave.
An increasing number of corporations are also considering subsidized childcare—with positive results for the bottom line. Consider those 900,000 women who left the workforce during COVID-19; that undoubtedly had an impact on the bottom line as well.
Fourth Problem: Lack of Internal Support and Mentorship
Do you have, or have you ever, relied on a mentor at work? If you’re a woman, the odds are against you. The smaller number of women in tech—especially in management and executive roles—means women working their way up the ladder have fewer people like them to aspire to and fewer advocates to help them along on their journey.
“The very nature of women being ‘the only’ in a room is problematic,” Middleton said. “I’ve been the only woman or the only Black person on a team and it can be very daunting.”
According to Singh, who interviewed more than 20 women from around the world for her book, “The IT Girl,” many said having female mentorship was crucial to climbing the career ladder.
“That’s how I got most of my jobs as well,” Singh said. “It’s always been referrals and just someone I know referring me. Just staying in touch makes all the difference.”
How to Solve It
Middleton recommends women form a strong network—both within and outside their organizations. And, while it’s nice to have a woman or two to commiserate with, she says male allies are just as important.
“Up until I started my consulting career, my biggest supporters were men. Getting allies in leadership is key, no matter the gender,” Middleton said. “Build solid relationships. That’s the one skill set that has served me the best.”
And, while it’s unfair to put the burden of mentorship on women. Part of the solution to getting more women in tech lies in their mentorship as well.
“I had a manager who was a woman and that was exciting for me because there weren’t many others,” Yale said. “But when I tried talking to her about some of the challenges of being the only woman in a leadership role, she said ‘I just have thick skin.’ I didn’t see that advice as very helpful or applicable to me.”
Singh shared a similar experience. “I worked with this one woman who was amazing…but she never had a minute to speak to me or anyone else in the company. Everyone was praising her for being at that level; but when you’re there, what is it you are doing to help others? Yes, there’s representation, but it might be of no use.”
For women in key roles in the tech world, this extra bit of responsibility may be unwelcome—especially when their gender means the job may already be tougher for them than their male colleagues.
Fifth Problem: Tech’s “Bro” Culture
Silicon Valley’s reputation for having a “bro” culture is no secret. It’s been in the news for years. Whole books have been written about it and its impact. Of course, though, the problem extends far beyond Silicon Valley. According to TrustRadius’ 2021 Women in Tech Report, 72% of women in tech said they worked at a company where “bro culture is pervasive.”
Not only does this mean women have to deal with bro culture’s manifestations. Which can range from an uncomfortable work environment to sexual harassment. And sexual assault, also means they’ll struggle to feel included, welcome. And confident enough to reach for the same heights as their male colleagues.
The tech industry’s bro culture can also mean women miss out on socializing. And networking opportunities can be so crucial in helping them move forward in their careers. Yale cites conferences as a stressful environment for women as a result of the stark gender imbalance and alcohol consumption.
“There are a lot of necessary guards women have about being in those positions. Which also means you miss out on networking because you feel uncomfortable or unsafe,” Yale said.
Singh, who has spent most of her career working in startups, says she sees it in the Slack channels. Where offensive and inappropriate memes and gifs may be shared with abandon.
“That’s where you can begin to lose your confidence and the urge to fit into that culture. That’s where you can feel left out,” Singh said.
How to Solve It
The problem with bro culture is most likely to be resolve by having more women in tech roles, especially at the highest levels. That includes investors.
“The money that comes out of Silicon Valley is white, privileged money,” Middleton said. “I’m glad to see more women founders and more women billionaires. Money is power, so that shift will occur.”
While the venture capital industry has made limited headway in terms of female leadership over the past 10 years, the number of funds started by women or BIPOC has grown significantly. This leadership is likely to help shift the kinds of companies that are fund. The makeup of their leadership, and, as a result, their corporate culture.
However, if there is anything you think we are missing. Don’t hesitate to inform us by dropping your advice in the comment section.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below!
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