Women in Technology: Have we Really Advanced in 2018?
Despite a lot of media attention on gender diversity in tech over the years, there’s still a noticeable lack of women in high-profile roles.
Gender equality has been a notorious issue in the business world for decades, and although sectors such as politics and finance are making inroads by advocating a more diverse work environment, it seems the tech industry is still lagging behind.
Men still hold the majority of decision-maker and board level roles in IT, but with many in the sector pushing for changes to level the playing field not only at C-suite level but also on the development floor, will we see a revolution or will roles continue to stagnate?
Representation throughout technology roles within a business: from executive to C-suite
We have already seen the positive effects of more female tech professionals joining the ranks of a business and improving its performance. But if you look towards the higher echelons of the boardroom and C-Suite roles, there is a noticeable absence of women standing at the helm.
Reports indicate there is very little diversity in the roles held by women at this level, with only 4% of Fortune 500 companies stating they have a female CEO as the top dog in their business. This lack of diversity is compounded by the fact that only 11% of CFOs in organisations on that list are women.
These are well below the numbers you would expect to see in a business environment and are further supported by an annual survey of the Microsoft business field, which found that 49% of women working in that area of IT believed there was not equal representation of diversity at the board level in their current business.
All of this information highlights the significant underrepresentation of women currently seated in high-profile roles, and while diversifying technology is crucial to the continued success of the sector, it looks as though women still have a long battle ahead before they’re given an equal share of authority.
How to combat the lack of diversity
The changing attitudes towards women in high-powered roles within technology is not something that will happen overnight. Currently in the US, men outnumber women 4 to 1 within STEM roles, and it’s also reported that only 17% of computer science graduates are women.
However, the business case for more female board and C-suite members to hold roles with greater influence in the tech sector has grown exponentially — something considerably backed by the millennial generation, who are pushing for a level playing field in all areas of tech from the development floor up to top-floor offices.
But for all these changes to be successful, they’ll also need further support from the wider business community. Everyone from executive to C-suite level can’t be siloed into thinking changes will occur instantly, they need to be intertwined within the practices and principles already present within an organisation to ensure they’re understood by everyone involved.
Diversity is an issue that can be easily brushed under the carpet or worried about further down the line. And although we are beginning to see the tech sector shift away from the traditional male-dominated boardroom, things won’t improve unless a wider proportion of business recognise the underlying issue.
How the female C-Suite can inspire and propel underrepresented groups
While much of the evidence points towards a disparity in the equal representation of women, the changing attitudes towards female workers in the tech sector have prompted small steps being made towards their employment in high-profile roles. This can only have a positive impact on the success of a business.
Women make up almost 60% of the workforce in the US, so the numbers should provide a fairer reading. However, with numbers falling remarkably short of this statistic, it will take longer for females who currently work in C-suite and other groups that are underrepresented to make their mark.
Breaking the current mould and hiring women for roles usually held by men can offer increased value to a business, and with research indicating there is a lower chance of discrimination when female C-suite members are placed in roles of authority, this can be the first step towards equality in organisations.
Inspiring the next generation is something all women in C-suite roles should aspire towards, and by taking their own inspiration from female tech icons such as Margaret Hamilton, who coined the term software engineering, or Grace Hopper, the inventor of the first compiler, it’s evident there is recognition to be had.
The continued perception of inequality within the tech sector will not only have consequences for the current generation looking to make their mark but future graduates and younger developers finding their feet.
The lack of female role models in executive and C-suite roles can discourage people from fighting for a position in the sector, and will only exacerbate the shortage of women choosing to break into the sector. If you can’t see a women currently in a role, people are less likely to believe they can also do it.
Businesses need to strive towards equality in every area and demonstrate impartiality when it comes to hiring their next developer, CIO or CEO. Not only will this help them to battle the issue of diversity, but it can also lead them to attracting and retaining the best talent available.