The gender gap for female technology professionals is alarming: only 26% of tech jobs are held by women (Tech Jury). The lack of diversity in technology roles can hold back innovation and profitability.
It gets worse when we take ethnicity into account: Asian women make up 5% of that number, while Black and Hispanic women accounted for 3% and 1%, respectively (NCWIT). The numbers evidence the lack of opportunities for diversity to flourish in the tech environment.
In this article, we will talk about the challenges towards female inclusion in technology careers, and we will provide some practical insights to help your company address these challenges.
The main challenges for women in tech
We’ve mapped the main pain points to the equilibrium in the number of women and men in technology careers:
Lack of female tech leadership
A study showed that women account for 48% of entry-level hires but only 38% of first-level managers (McKinsey).
The lack of female IT leaders widens the gender gap, resulting in the lack of role models for other women in tech.
It also reflects the astonishing 50% quit rate of women in IT, 45% higher than men’s (Finances Online).
The leadership of women in technology can attract and engage other female tech professionals to be part of the company’s environment. It can also improve retainment numbers.
Women tend to receive a 20% lower remuneration than their male counterparts for the same job (NarrowTheGap).
The pay gap is the result of a culture that holds a bias – unconscious or not – that reinforces the remuneration difference between men and women, favourishing men.
This culture supports women being offered less money than men, including in VC funding rounds. In 2019, women-owned startups received only 2,8% of VC funding of the total (TechCrunch).
50% of women in STEM jobs report going through at least one kind of discrimination at work, such as earning less for the same job (29% of them), being treated as not competent (29% of them) or receiving less support from leaders (18% of them) (PEW Research Center).
About 20% of women agree their gender makes it hard to succeed at work (PEW Research Center). Possible reasons for women to be far more likely to leave than men are a hostile macho culture, Isolation or Lack of effective sponsors (Next Generation).
These and other micro-violence on a daily basis can be responsible for turning the coexistence and collaboration harder between workers from different genders, besides making it harder for women to be listened to.
Lack of retention
Women are 45% more likely to leave the company within the year than men (Finances Online). This makes it harder to form an IT leadership workforce, for instance.
56% of women are leaving their tech jobs at the ages of 35 (Addevait). Between the ones who leave, 24% take a non-technical job in a different company, 22% become self-employed in a tech field, 20% take time out of the workforce and 10% start working in a startup company.
Actions to support, retain & attract female tech professionals
How can leaders and coworkers make a positive difference for women in the technology industry? Check our suggestions:
Step-up against invisibilization
As a result of prejudice, women’s work and results tend to be invisibilized. Investing in diversity training can help prepare your team to be respectful and welcoming for women in the workplace.
To start giving women recognition for their ideas, men can start emphasizing their contributions while publicly addressing the credit to women.
Eliminate the bias
Trainings focused on eliminating the unconscious bias in recruitment processes are really helpful to stop discrimination and enhance the shortlist with more talented candidates.
Diversity is amazing for profit, and can be seen as a differential to be celebrated and preferred in candidates.
Fix the salary gap
Make efforts to guarantee women earn at least the same as men for the same job. It might seem as a reverse-logic for profit, but it is part of the steps companies need to take to start forming female leaderships and being able to reach higher numbers and keener innovation through diversity.
Make being diverse-friendly important
Find a way to recognize employees that are respectful and engaged in the process of truly welcoming diversity.
Make it a must-have soft skill for the new hires, and, once you are training your intern staff in diversity, ask for results on the topic on a regular basis. Prejudice needs to become an elimination factor in selective processes.
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