The tech sector is growing with a rate of 5-6%, making it one of the largest growing sectors in the world. Not only that but the sector also provides 15% of the highest 20 paying jobs worldwide. With these statistics in mind, women are encouraged to step forward and reach out to gain all the perks and benefits that a career in tech can offer. Sadly though, despite all the long strides that women have made in the workplace, only 26.2% of tech jobs are held by women and women still get paid 2.5% less than their male counterparts in the sector for the same role.
What are the reasons behind this? And what can tech or tech-enabled organizations do to build more diverse & inclusive work environments?
Where is all of this coming from?
There are several factors contributing to having less women in tech. These factors combined drive less and less female representation across the employee pipeline.
Fear of a STEM Education
The gender gap in tech surprisingly is highly driven by an entry gap stemming from young girls’ lack of interest or fear of STEM subjects in school. The result? Only 26% of students in STEM majors in universities are women. There’s no surprise that if this is the percent taking up a STEM major that the percent of women entering the tech sector will be around that same range.
Misrepresentation in Senior Roles
Men represent 89% of all senior roles in the tech sector, an observation that is likely to create barriers of entry to women at all levels. This means that even for those few women who choose a STEM career, they need to pass by a male manager’s approval in order to get promoted in their career path. With unconscious gender biases in place, this makes it harder and harder for women to progress in their careers which reinforces that gender pay gap and drives women out of tech.
The tech sector has undergone many upheavals in the past fifty years, giving it a reputation of being a sector ruled by uncertainty and fast pace. In a world where only those who ‘move fast and break things’ survive, things can get very stressful. This affects women more especially since women usually have other considerations at play. With the need to balance things such as building a career and building a family, providing caregiving to an elderly parent, etc, this uncertain and fast-paced culture can be nerve-wracking and a dreary career option even to the most talented of tech women.
How Can You Build a Women-Friendly Tech Workplace?
As shocking as all the numbers are, do not be discouraged! Organizations have gone a long way in the past fifty years to improve the situation for women. In fact, although only 26.2% of tech jobs are held by women today, this number is three times higher than it was in the 1970s in some countries.
But there is still more to do. Here is our list of best practices that you can do in your tech organization to have more women on board.
Revisit Your Job Posts
Research has shown that the language used in job posts significantly impacts the gender gap of applicants to the same roles. For example, words like ‘competition’, ‘expert’, or ‘lead’ tend to drive off women. On the other hand, words like ‘collaboration’, ‘team’, or ‘support’ can lead to more women applicants for exactly the same roles. It all has to do with how you phrase it!
Offer Leadership Development & Mentorship Programs
Equip your female employees with the skills they need to advance in their tech careers. Provide them with leadership development programs that build their skills and hone them for senior leadership roles. More importantly, initiate a mentorship and sponsorship program that connects the new women entrants in your organization with the already established women leaders who have made it. Having a role model and a mentor from the same gender helps provide women with the support they need to grow.
Build Flexibility into the Work Environment
Being laden with the responsibility of balancing conflicting duties, women prize flexibility in the workplace. They benefit greatly from flexible work hours, remote work arrangements, and all policies that make their balancing act easier. Moreover, they also benefit from perks that are designed to support women. For example, child care assistance or extended maternity leave are all perks that assure women that they are valued and their special requirements are not considered a burden on the organization.
Issue Gender Reports with Transparency
Reporting goes a long way in quantifying an issue and raising awareness about it. A simple annual or semi-annual report showing the gender distribution of your workforce across all roles and levels, if published regularly and disseminated widely in the organization, can raise awareness about your diversity and inclusion goals. This may encourage more hiring managers in your organization to reflect on their hiring practices and promotions decisions.
Reach out to young girls in schools pre-university through your corporate social responsibility programs. Showcase to them the rewarding prospects of a career in tech and help take down the barriers to loving STEM subjects. It would be great if you can connect them with female techies in your organization to mentor, guide, and encourage them.
How Can XpertLearning Help?
These are the best practices for building a tech workplace that encourages and supports women. If you are considering giving a leadership program to women in your organization, check our leadership courses here. And if you’re considering purchasing a talent management system to more effectively track diversity and inclusion statistics in your organization, check our partners’ talent management systems here.