There has been a dearth of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Despite many efforts, the gender gap for women in the technology is far worse than what it was in 1984. The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Global Gender Gap Report, 2021 depicts this worsening trend towards gender parity in the technology industry and other emerging jobs.
Image source: Linkedin Economic Graph Team
While it may seem that there is a greater push for women in leadership roles, a study led by Accenture and Girls who Code shows otherwise: Compared to men, tech roles are relinquished by women at a 45 % higher rate. What’s more alarming is that by the age of 35, women tend to abandon their technology careers. The study paints a dismal picture of women in the tech industry as it reveals that a mere 21 % of women could claim that the tech industry was a place for them to grow and succeed. When it comes to women of colour then this number is alarmingly lower at 8%.
The impact of the global pandemic on this situation is yet to be ascertained. Based on insights from Forbes, let’s take a look at some of the steps that the tech industry can take to be more inclusive and diverse.
Building a culture that values diversity
Empowering women to make decisions and ensuring that their voices are heard is the first step to a truly inclusive organization for women in technology. The desire to be more diverse and inclusive must take form in the organization’s structure. The make-up of your core executive and strategic team bears the insignia for the rest of the organization. The diversity in the top-management is indicative of the company’s overall culture. Women, men, and people from diverse backgrounds ought to be equally represented.
Some steps that technologies companies can implement include: Increasing the inclusion of deserving women candidates in the final list of potential candidates for a role at the management-level or higher. The candidate slating guidelines should be enacted to encourage diversity. The next step at the corporate level is establish transparent and measurable inclusion and diversity goals. Having a policy framework that is amenable towards inclusion and diversity is critical: Key organizational representatives must exercise accountability to achieve the aforementioned goals. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to make the situation worse for inclusion and diversity in many organizations.
Flexibility is key
With remote-working and hybrid work environments becoming the norm, a flexible work culture is pivotal for the workforce. A flexible workforce shall also help attract and keep women in the tech-workforce. Many women drop out of jobs due to their family responsibilities such as ageing parents and children. A flexible remote working culture could be a key enabler towards attracting talented women and having a more diverse workforce. Women can thus get empowered to work in a manner that best fits their schedule. It can also help ensure pay parity in the long run.
A robust support infrastructure
It is important to groom women for leadership roles. Having employee resource groups, mentors, and networking activities can be key enablers in this regard. Mentoring programs can facilitate skill development, leadership, and other work-related aspects that are critical to career growth. Women themselves must take up the initiative of building a strong work-network. By having a mentor and a strong network, talented women can carve a path towards successful career growth. In time, they can groom others to follow in their footsteps towards success. Organizations on their part must focus on a culture of trust and transparency. Fostering diversity in the work-force shall only serve to contribute towards the long-term success of an organization.
The road ahead
The underlying principles to attract and retain women in the workforce can also be used to enhance workforce diversity. While the new normal may have been a set-up for workforce inclusion and diversity, it also can lead to opportunities. For instance, a remote and virtual working environment that has become the norm for many organizations today can be a catalyst for a more inclusive and diverse work-force.