International Women’s Day – is the tech industry for me?
Figures from leadership positions in the technology industry are at a woeful 5%, with just 26% of computing jobs being held by women. So why are these figures so low? It stems from such a low percentage (18%) of women taking computer science or STEM fields at undergraduate level, despite a whopping 74% of young girls expressing an interest in the subject.
It’s International Women’s Day and therefore a timely opportunity to address the ever prominent topic of the lack of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. Statistics still fall short for females in STEM careers so what better time to look at some of the avenues to bridge the gender gap in IT than today?
Is a lack of women in leadership positions a problem?
Diversity aids innovation, new directions and creativity. The best way to drive business performance is to have a diverse set of people at the top, and having women in leadership positions lets this happen. Diversity also leads to validation, and so having more women in leadership positions adds to levels of quality assurance, helping to boost performance and innovation.
There are more males in the leadership succession pipeline, and this provides a barrier to women breaking through into leadership positions. This is an issue because women provide different skills at the top which can help authenticate decision making. Women are more empathetic and can relate to the customer user experience, which translates into real financial results.
Senior leadership needs to set an example and be more open in the way they hire. There needs to be a better understanding of modern day technology and what it takes to be a leader in technology.
Is it good to be a woman (or man) in tech right now?
Technology elevates our knowledge and understanding of the world through better understanding of human behaviour, contributing to improved relationships and connections with each other, and this is powerful. The technological revolution enables breakthroughs in science which helps to save lives, and allows us to predict behavioural patterns helping to combat world problems such as terrorism.
How can women progress in their careers, moving from non-tech to tech?
Learning agility is one of the most important skills you can have. Working in technology teaches you this. Women naturally are more in tune to reactions and emotions of those around us, and this is a hugely beneficial skill to bring into any industry, especially a male dominated one.
Another way for women to progress in their career is to find a sponsor or a mentor to help guide them through their careers. A sponsor is someone who holds you in high regard and will help fight your corner within an organisation. A mentor is someone who will to teach you and help to manage professional situations.
Women should look to their managers for to create clear progression opportunities for them and push for opportunities to diversify their skillset. Ambition and a good attitude are attractive qualities and when recognised will help with career progression.
Does the tech industry help support women to have a family and job?
When women in leadership positions start families, a large proportion of them do not return back to work, regardless of how well they have progressed in their role. Modern companies help to cater towards this by offering flexibility in terms of working from home, meaning that you don’t have to be in the office five days a week. This should help to encourage women to come back to work. More often than not, people hire people who are similar to themselves, known of as ‘me too’ bias. With more women in leadership positions, it will become more natural to inspire advancement for the female workforce.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook once stated:
“The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry” and so having conversations and sharing responsibilities is significant.
How can women increase their hirability?
Here are a few pointers for you:
- Find out what sets you apart from the rest
- What are your passions?
- Which areas do you excel in?
- What makes you good?
- What will make your CV stand out?
- Have you got a LinkedIn profile?
Connecting with industry experts at networking events such as WITBoss (aimed at women in technology) will provide you with a wealth of opportunities for mentorship and career progression.
Think about the conversations you have online and offline and make them count, be authentic. Most importantly of all, be unique and express your personal brand.
Ladies, did you know?
Corecom Consulting has an award winning networking event called WITBoss.
WITBoss provides women with discussions to help them feel more empowered, with tips to break through gender inequality and bridge the gender gap in IT. It is aimed at addressing prominent challenges and creating a unique community for women in IT to network, debate, discuss hot topics, and learn from reputable and established speakers who are leaders in the industry. Register your interest here for this event.