Back Women in Tech: How the Industry of Innovation Has Room to Grow
Despite the strong emphasis on diversity & inclusion over the past few years, there are still many companies who have yet to build an equally representative workforce. When it comes to women in the technology sector, they are drastically underrepresented. In the UK’s booming tech industry, only 16% of IT specialists are female, a figure that has sadly remained static over the past decade. They are barely represented in senior leadership, making up only 23% of tech directors. Furthermore, over half of the women in tech quit the sector midway through their careers, double the rate of men. As seen in a 2020 survey by Studio Graphene, workplace discrimination and harassment are among the factors that have caused women to resign.
With tech’s male dominance being deeply rooted in history, it is no surprise that we continue to see women’s struggles in the business today. For example, in 2018 Amazon discovered that its AI-powered recruiting tool was biased against women. Using the low number of female Computer Science graduates in the data it received, the tool “taught itself” to favour male applicants over female ones. According to UCAS data from HESA 2017-2018, only 13% of computer science and gaming students in the UK are women. If this trend continues, we will see a further decline of women in tech-related professions.
Tackling gender imbalance in tech starts with changing corporate cultures. Aside from it being the moral and ethical thing to do, building a diverse and inclusive workforce has significant benefits for a company.
First, having more women in tech encourages creativity and lateral thinking. Innovation drives this ever-growing industry. However, the truth is that women currently struggle with speaking up because they fear they would not be taken seriously. By promoting a culture that supports women, more female employees will be encouraged to share their opinions and ideas that may become a company’s next innovative tool. A diverse and inclusive culture also creates a comfortable environment for all employees, boosting both their morale and productivity. Consequently, it increases a company’s revenue. When employees are more productive, a company gets more profit.
Moreover, gender diverse and inclusive work environments would attract more talent and investors. Given the competitive nature of the technology sector, such environments would be encouraging for top applicants and investors who value gender diversity. Harvard Business Review cites a Glassdoor study that shows 67% of job applicants looking at gender diversity when deciding on an offer. The same article also discusses how gender diversity is a signal that a company is well-managed, increasing investors’ confidence in the organization.
Lastly, more women in tech mean more representation to voice out issues specific to women. When women are well-represented, this not only builds a comfortable environment for them; it also ensures that the company gets enough feedback to improve its strategies for diversity & inclusion.
Changing a company’s culture is not the easiest thing to do, but it is definitely far from impossible. By promoting gender equality, we don’t help only women – we help everyone.