Well as I am sure anyone who is reading this will know this is not an age-old question, but a topic we have pondered over extensively in recent years. Wonderfully we are getting there I just think the world needs to get there sooner! I know I am not the only one that sees how much of an impact a good woman leader or accomplice can have not only in Technology but the work place and the world beyond. Still to date only 26% of Computing related jobs are held by women and in a report by the FCA only 17% of the makeup of the Financial industry is made up of women, a figure that remains unchanged since 2005!!! WOW. 2005 – no difference, I thought we had certainly come further than that.
LET’S DISCUSS WHY THIS MIGHT BE?
Many women simply aren’t interested in Technology, and having been one of those originally I get it! When I was looking at industries to work with in Recruitment I felt like Tech connected the least, seeming broad and scary. I was looking at industries I felt were more lucrative and easy to pick up before taking on a role in the industry. Whilst my role as a Headhunter in this world did not plunge me immediately in the IT trenches, I loved the environment and from my first role wanted to learn all I could about the industry.
From the very first PHP London meetup I went to when I was 22 years old I loved every area, reading up on all aspects and joining in on debates at the various meetups wherever possible (and when we were allowed to, damn you Covid-19!). Since then I was hooked and wanted to know more. It is my initial hesitation with getting involved in Tech that led me to wonder why it was not something naturally engrained. That made me think…-why is that and what else could be done on the ground level to make it more appealing? Which leads me on to…
HOW CAN WE ATTRACT MORE WOMEN?
Let’s discuss this, I think there are a number of ways we can look at why this may be happening and how we can champion it and do better!
Training and Education
We definitely need to start from the grass roots and work from the ground up. I certainly didn’t think tech was very interesting when I was at school but can see now how exciting and vast it is. Should we be doing more to make it more engaging at school? Tech City UK actually conducted a survey which found 45% of women felt they lacked skills in technology, 38% lack knowledge about technology and 24% felt it wasn’t for people like them. “People like them” This is crazy that this is how people feel particularly in this day and age when the world relies so much on technology to operate.
Technology is for everyone one Google search, webinar and question at a time we can all learn regardless of sex, ethnicity and background 😊 The gender gap certainly starts in Education; while we are all given similar opportunities women feel that Tech is an area they don’t naturally get drawn to. Maybe there is something that can be done within schools and universities to create more interest from girls when they are growing up like women to women peer groups for IT subjects etc.
There are some female focused meetups and also training groups that I will pop further down this post as a point of reference for anyone who is thinking about getting a career in Tech and not quite sure where to start or has a career already but is looking for resources or like-minded individuals to share their experiences with/learn from.
Role Benefits and Advertising
It has been shown that language in job advertisements can turn women off. In research studies we see that if men think they are relevant for 50% of the job description they will apply but women will only apply if they think they match 90% of the spec. WOW! We are picky; but I guess we know what we want/what we are looking for and don’t have time to waste. But this does make me ponder the question…should we be looking more at targeting women in business advertising?
Textio, an AI company, ran some research a few years ago which found language was a key factor with women more likely to apply to a role that stated they were looking for people to ‘develop’ a team rather than ‘manage’. Atlassian used the Textio technology which helps makes adverts more female friendly and saw an 80% increase in women hired in Tech. This is staggering but also shows you how much language and approach can make a difference.
Defining benefits, training and maternity allowance in a positive way is known to be key to what progressive females in the industry want to see. Why not offer equal leave and pay to men and women regarding parental leave so that there isn’t such a divide? It has been shown to work in other countries so why not the UK? A good point for business owners and leaders to look into and think about if they want to attract a more diverse mix of people into their businesses.
Internal Promotion and more Women in management/on the board
Speaking from personal experience I have had some great male bosses. But none of them were quite like the female manager I interviewed with at my career defining role that progressed me so much in my field. There was something totally different about the dynamic I had with her as a female manager – I felt more at ease and that I could be more open with her as she showed compassion and was more approachable and willing to help.
It is for these reasons that I went on to join forces with Kirsty at my current company where we have worked to create an open environment that we enjoy and excel together in. I feel we have a natural empathy and that helps us work well together.
Letting women progress into more senior roles in businesses will almost certainly attract more women into Technology. Also, when people are researching companies on LinkedIn as they do nowadays it will almost certainly look more attractive to them from a career perspective if they can see women who have progressed organically within a business into senior roles. From my own personal experience working with strong female leaders has given me food for thought and showed me how beneficial senior women are for balance in a work environment.
WHY IS IT BETTER TO HAVE A DIVERSE WORK FORCE?
Why should we care about diversity and inclusion in Tech? Well, why not? It is proven that a more balanced environment works better in the work place. If we are comparing it to the recent world events it is no secret that the country that has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic the best were New Zealand, championed by the PM boss lady at the helm Jacinda Ardern. Looking at the dealings in the UK in comparison certainly bring us a respect for her leadership and approach!
Jacinda is an advocate for women leaders and she has certainly shown the world how it is done and how she has benefitted New Zealand as a country since being in power. She has appointed the most diverse cabinet in history with Maori ministers making up a quarter of it and women making up 40%. Not only this but she appointed a gay Deputy Prime Minister – this sort of diversity is what the world needs, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how well this has worked! I cannot have been the only person researching how I can go and live there in recent months!
Also, we can look at the Groupthink theory in Psychology, which is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of similar individuals are dominated by a leader who does not give them the space for critical thought or a chance for evaluation of the alternatives. This will generally lead to a badly thought out consensus that reflects only the thought process of the leader.
Groupthink is based on a desire not to upset the balance which makes me think it is actually better to be more balanced within teams and businesses in order to thrive (see what I did there 😊). People with different life experience can inspire a range of approaches to decision making and problem solving. McKinsey actually ran a paper last year called the ‘Diversity Wins’ Report and found that the most diverse companies in terms of workforce were 35% more likely to outperform their least diverse competitors, so what are we waiting for?! Let’s improve the divide now and create better, more neutral work forces and working environments because it is key to a prospering business and community!
To any women out there who are thinking about getting into a role in Technology I have popped some resources below to help. Also please feel free to send me a message/invite on LI if you want to discuss further – I would be more than happy to help.