How We Can Increase The Number Of Women In Tech


Mar. 2 2018, Published 5:09 a.m. ET

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Currently, only 17% of women hold jobs in the technology sector, while it’s 14.4% for the STEM industry. Since the gender pay gap debate in the UK, women have been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Their not our mistakes, of course, but they do raise an important point: how can we change the tide. Studies suggest equal pay may not arrive while 2070 at the current rate, which is far too long.

It’s true that governments and local authorities have to do more. After all, women can’t break through when there are zero opportunities to seize in the first place. The good news is that action is being taken along with the policies that already exist. Let’s not forget positive workplace legislation such as maternity leave.

However, to leave the action up to the suits in Congress is a grave error. Politics is a messy business and minorities don’t seem to come out the other side smelling of roses. Nope, sometimes we as citizens have to take charge.

Look For Role Models:  Honestly, they do exist as long as you are willing to look. By April 2018, only 24 of the Fortune 500 companies will have a female CEO. As a percentage, it equates to less than 5% of the industry which is pretty shocking. Still, it does mean fantastic women are fighting against the odds and succeeding. Mary Barra heads General Motors, ranked 8th on the list, one of the biggest corporations in the world. Ginni Rometty is at IBM, while Indra Nooyi runs PepsiCo. And, the further you go down the list, the more women should realize their vast potential. With a positive tech influence in your life, there isn’t a barrier that seems too tall to climb. Because Barra, Rometty and Nooyi have blazed a path, ladies can follow in their steps and transforms the current status quo.

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Follow Like Minded Women: Looking to the ladies on the Fortune 500 list is essential to boost confidence and self-esteem. Just knowing they have competed in a male-dominated world provides a positive mental foundation for females. However, the term ‘role model’ suggests the person in question can offer advice. Sadly, it’s something the head of a global corporation won’t be able to do because of time constraints. Plus, there’s a good chance the CEO of PepsiCo isn’t a Facebook friend! Don’t fret because, as unlikely as it sounds, there are plenty more fish in the sea. In fact, Inc has an inventory of women that are killing it in the tech sector, all of whom aren’t working for tech giants. Still, Gail Carmichael is the External Education team leader at Shopify which is a massive deal. And, Cam Kashani is referred to as the ‘godmother of Silicon Valley’ after her exploits COACCEL. Now, she’s an expert speaker for the State Department. These women prove that stepping stones to the top jobs exist and can lead to a successful career.

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Review The Job Post: Unfortunately for women, positions appear with little frequency and that tempts us into applying for any role. But, one of the problems for ladies in the tech industry is accepting an offer which sets back a career. At times, the male-dominated company may not reward women with the same opportunities as it does men. As a result, women can stagnate in a role which appeared positive in the beginning, yet turned out to be a frog masquerading as a prince. Simply reviewing the phraseology in the posting can help squirrel out the good from the bad. The business Buffer decided to change the term ‘hacker’ with ‘developer’ and increased the number of female applicants. Aside from being proactive, this company showed they are willing to help women achieve their goals and dreams. Anyone that is unsure can use data platforms to sort the men from the boys. As a rule, check for the overall experience of the candidate to help you decide whether a business is female-friendly.

Understand Your Needs: Research suggests that women are more likely to work part-time and it’s easy to see why. Having children is a part of life for millions and women and children can affect career prospects. Maternity leave has already been mentioned, but there are time gaps which still inhibitive. Rather than leave the workforce for years, women can mix their lifestyle with their career. Flexible working hours or remote working roles, for example, help to bridge the gap.

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Climb The Ladder: Reaching the top of the tree isn’t an easy slog. Indeed, it takes years of hard work and toil, and you’re not guaranteed anything at the end of the journey. Still, working to facilitate your dreams isn’t a negative: it’s a positive. Roles at the bottom of the industry ladder never look appealing, yet they are ways to place your foot inside the door. For instance, a coder will ultimately want to develop the code that dictates the server and the business as a whole. To get to that point, you may have to take a job as a clinical coder and use it as a solid base. For one thing, hospitals and clinics are solid employment opportunities as their duty of care relies on the internet. Secondly, the ability to rise through the ranks isn’t as difficult as the networks are huge. Always take your experience into account before rejecting a job. Graduates need well-paying jobs to pay back their loans, yet the great roles require wisdom as well as talent.

Reach Out: The idea that women don’t help other women is a touchy subject. It’s true that some ladies prefer to go it alone and avoid their sisters in the process. For what reason, most of us aren’t sure but we all know colleagues that don’t give other women the time of day. Still, to take this generalization as the gospel truth is dangerous as it pits the ladies against one another. Considering the war against the tech industry is attritional enough, women MUST be on the same side. Only you’ll know about the helpful peers in your business because every woman is different. So, when you see the signs, it’s imperative to reach out as soon as possible and touch base. Even if the subject doesn’t raise its head – it will – there should be a bond that transcends the office. Other alternatives are to join female-based unions and groups to ensure there is someone by your side at work. The Tech Workers Coalition is gaining traction, for example, and could be a strong ally throughout the Trump era.

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Stand Out: We can’t underestimate the role of discrimination in the tech industry at the moment. Indeed, it would be silly to underestimate the impact for any sector in the world. Just look at the treatment of Hollywood’s leading ladies. Of course, we aren’t reliant on others to get us out of a tricky situation. Sure, the chances are fewer, yet women can still increase their odds by standing out from the crowd. An argument to make, and a very good one, is that men don’t need to do the same to secure a position. Only 8% of US citizens have a masters, never mind men within the tech world. What this stat also shows is that women aren’t engaging in postgraduate courses, and it’s damaging. A job in data science is going to attract a lot of attention, and everyone needs an ace up their sleeve. A master’s degree is often the leveler that ladies need to break through the glass ceiling. At the least, it helps to bring men and women closer together in the eyes of employers.

Demand What You Deserve: A study in conjunction with McKinsey noted that men are more likely to get promoted at work than women. Once you see this, it’s easy to complain about institutional bias and how the system is geared toward men. And, even though there is truth to the argument, it doesn’t tell the whole story. One reason men and likely to get promoted is that they are confident regarding demanding their dues. Yep, guys simply ask a boss for a pay rise or a new position and it works more times than not on average. This isn’t to say that women aren’t confident or able to make demands; just that men seem to showcase the quality in the workplace. One thing women have to take from this study is the adage ‘ask and you shall receive.’ Talking to managers about an increase in pay is a touchy subject, yet the worst they can say is “no.” Laws exist which prevent unfair dismissal, so employers can’t lash out without merit.

How do you think women can be more involved in the tech industry?

[Editor’s note: This post is produced by one of our trusted partners.]

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