The Persistent Problem In Tech

The number of women being hired in the tech sector has increased only by 2% over the last 21 years, according to reports


The pandemic disrupted the workforce in unprecedented ways. One of the many unfortunate outcomes was its impact on women in the workforce. Women were several times more likely to lose work or leave work than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, gender disparity is and has been a persistent theme in the technology sector. Despite efforts to address this issue, the struggles continue. The pandemic has added to further setbacks.

Historically, women have long had an impact on technology by clearly demonstrating their ability to contribute in meaningful ways and by adding significant value to the development of computer programming and software development. Notable pioneers include the likes of Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and Katherine Johnson, to name a few. There are many examples of the impact that women have had on building software and advancing this field. Yet, over time, the number of women computer science majors dropped to 18%. The number of women being hired in the tech sector has increased only by 2% over the last 21 years, according to reports. Women constitute just 14% of the workforce in software engineering and 25% in computer science-related jobs.

Critical Talent Needed

Programming is gender agnostic. Technology developed by a gender-diverse team will be richer in thought and perspective than that developed under the leadership of a single gender. It is critical that workplaces do what they can to address this.

With technology influencing every aspect of life, we will see an increased opening of tech jobs. We can expand this talent pool in tech by supporting and encouraging women across diverse backgrounds. You are missing out on a significant portion of the population if you aren’t addressing this opportunity and coming up with ways to attract and retain this critical segment of talent.

Be Intentional

Companies can start taking steps today to shore up their recruiting process so that it doesn’t have any unintended negative impacts on candidates. For example, ensure job listings are gender-neutral, conduct blind assessments of resumes, and train hiring managers to understand and work to remove their unconscious biases. Creating a positive and welcoming experience for women during interview process is foundational.

Before launching into hiring, though, it is important to first create an environment for all employees to thrive. This means that diversity policies must not remain on paper. Organizations need to ensure that these policies are integrated into their culture. Women in STEM fields are more likely to quit within the first few years than their counterparts in other sectors due to a lack of role models, reduced growth opportunities, and toxic work environments. Women are less likely to quit if they are working in a gender-diverse workplace.

Corporates must therefore strive to create supportive workplaces for all employees, in addition to building a culture that is serious about providing employees with equal opportunities. These are some additional areas to consider:

· Welcoming Environment: Creating a supportive culture is vital for talent attraction and retention.

o Community: Having women in leadership and management roles builds a more supportive and empathetic community. If leaders are dealing with similar or the same challenges as their colleagues in the workplace, that puts them in a position to understand and provide support.

o Flexible work: Covid 19 helped remove barriers that caused any hindrance to remote work. With more flexible work schedules, organizations are sending a message that they prioritize output rather than attendance.

o Re-entry: Welcome candidates back to the workforce that stepped away to manage personal obligations. Women are often the ones that opt for a career break, and this shouldn’t be a hinderance to getting back to work when they are ready.

· Invest in Learning & Development: The technology landscape is a fast-moving, ever-changing environment. Organizations that prioritize training and mentorship are setting the workforce up for success.

o Training: Organizations should invest in training platforms, opportunities and ensure those opportunities are applied equitably.

o Mentorship: Creating mentorship opportunities for women in technology roles can help them develop and grow and helps an organization build a pipeline of women technical leaders.

· Supportive Benefits: Benefits can make a difference. Here are some specific aspects around benefits that organizations can focus on.

o Pay Equity – Establishing rigorous pay practices that are applied fairly and consistently are important to maintaining equitable pay across genders.

o Wellness Benefits – Allowing employees to invest in their mental health and wellbeing is important, especially when work and family responsibilities are significant.

o Paid Time Off – Time off provides the flexibility to focus on family and life outside of work. This helps employees to maintain a sense of balance.

Future of Tech

Aside from establishing a work environment that is more supportive for all genders, we also need to expand the pipeline of available talent in tech. One sure-fire way to help reduce the gender gap in tech is to mentor, support and encourage young girls as they enter secondary education and show them the different career possibilities in STEM. There must also be efforts to make up the ground that was lost during the pandemic and then we need to keep pushing so women know they are welcomed, valued, and supported in the workplace, otherwise this persistent problem in technology will continue to limit the potential in this sector.

(The article has been authored by Carrie Cisek, Chief Human Resources Officer at Granicus; specifically for BW People Publication)

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