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Creating a more gender-balanced tech industry

Tess Hilton

The gender gap has become a widely discussed issue in recent years. The World Economic Forum suggests that “it may take another 202 years to close the economic gender gap globally”. When it comes to STEM subjects the gap is particularly apparent, with women accounting for only 15% of employees, according to a recent report by PWC. So what needs to change for the gap to close? Let’s take a look at some of the steps businesses can take to help bridge the divide.

Adapting recruitment

When it comes to recruitment ads, it’s important to make sure the language you’re using is gender inclusive i.e. using words and phrases that both men and women will respond to and which avoids bias. Technology is making this process easier, with the use of new AI software that can screen for and eliminate unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Even with the use of technology, hiring teams should be trained to uncover and consider any hidden or unconscious bias that might affect a candidate’s chances.

Creating a better environment

Making changes to the working environment can have a really positive impact on both attracting and empowering a more diverse workforce. Having a more flexible attitude to working is a great place to start. By allowing for a range of different scenarios, from working part-time to telecommuting, we can offer women the choice of growing their careers and their family side-by-side. This needs to be supported by a good tech infrastructure, making it easy to work from home, or independently when needed. Likewise, having a good benefits package in place can help to provide the right environment for a more gender neutral industry, like offering additional maternity leave, paternity leave, help with childcare and setting up a process to support women back into work.

Changing perceptions

Part of the issue surrounding the gender gap in technology comes from perceiving the lack of women in the industry. Young girls and women are less likely to follow a career in tech, if they believe the industry to be dominated by men. To change these perceptions takes time, but you can begin by making diversity a case for the whole business, setting KPI’s to deliver against it. This sets the agenda from the top down and proves to others that you mean business. It’s important to follow this up with promoting a positive, open and diverse culture. Offer women a platform to share their experiences and learn from one another, through networks and mentorship. Creating platforms like these can help to increase women’s confidence and assertiveness, as well as give them champions and allies to support them on their journey.

Investing in the future

When it comes to increasing the number of women in leadership roles, we need to invest both time and money training and developing women in their careers. So that when opportunities present themselves, these women are skilled and able to pursue leadership and c-suite roles. Training the entire workforce in the different ways people communicate can benefit everyone. By understanding how both men and women communicate, and being able to adapt and be sensitive to these differences, we can encourage collaboration across the business.

Join the wider discussion

While there is much we can do within our organisations that can help to change gender balance for the better, there is a world outside of this that can also be influenced. We can look to become role models for the future generations of women in STEM. By building partnerships with local schools and educational organisations, we can encourage younger generations to explore STEM career options that they otherwise may not have considered. Likewise, speaking at conferences and networking events can help to spark conversations and create new opportunities for us to close the gap.

It’s important to remember that the gender gap is no one person’s or organisation’s responsibility. It’s only by taking the right steps together, as an industry, that we can begin to shift the balance and start to create a more diverse, inclusive and gender balanced industry to work in.

Read our related blog: Why are so few women taking A-level computer science?

Recent Comments
Interesting article. In 2017, around 3 out of 4 school teachers were female (around 376,300 teachers) I wonder if there is a somewhat similar bias and unwelcoming environment keeping men out of teaching.. Perhaps a similar scheme is needed to get men into teaching?
Karen George, 04 April 2019
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