When you are on the sea, sometimes inclement weather can put wind in the sails and propel the boat at its top speed. In a somewhat similar perspective, the phase of the coronavirus pandemic has created a scenario that has led to fast-pacing the need to address the gender gap concerns—a long-standing issue in the tech industry. The low representation of women, particularly in leadership roles, has been a much-talked-about matter for years now. Genuine efforts can go a long way toward introducing gender diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech sector.
In the tech industry, the pandemic has been instrumental in introducing some of the most significant transformations in our ways of working. And this has had particular implications for women and other diverse representatives. For example, in women’s case, the opportunity to work in a hybrid manner across geographies and from the comfort of their homes has created a sea of options for them. The 2021 Women in Tech Report states that 53% of women in engineering and IT mentioned that remote work has been a positive and supportive factor.
But despite that, factors such as stereotyping and sub-conscious bias across some roles and challenges in balancing personal and professional life continue to account for the under-representation of women in the tech industry. Gender bias has been identified as the top barrier preventing women in technology roles from moving into leadership positions. This was closely followed by work-life integration and a lack of mentorship.
As per the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women represented 26% of all positions in the tech industry and only about 16% at the executive level. Women now occupy less than one-fifth of spots on the boards of directors at tech companies, and the share is lower for women executives, as per the S&P Global findings.
Women cannot take up technical or fieldwork—this has been the general mindset that has prevailed in the industry over the years. And this needs to change.
Another challenge in the form of the lack of a strong pipeline of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields ensures that you’re choosing from a smaller pool.
So, what can we do to improve diversity in tech?
While tech companies are making efforts, however, there is scope for more when it comes to creating equal opportunities and establishing the right support system.
Mentoring and employee resource groups (ERGs): These are groups in which employees and their allies gather regularly to exchange their experiences and offer one another support that can go a long way in creating a welcoming, inclusive environment.
Recruiting more women personnel: Especially at the shopfloor and the leadership level can help overcome the stereotypical mindset.
Adopting a three-pronged approach: Solving for more women in STEM is a long-term plan, but corporate mentoring, campus engagement and lateral hiring can positively change the equation.
A study from the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI), which was conducted almost a decade ago, has long established that ensuring more women in leadership can have numerous benefits. Gender diversity in the workplace leads to a thriving economy and is a valuable asset. It also makes good business sense considering that the variety of perspectives allows better decision-making. Organizations with more women in the IT department tend to be further along in digital transformation.
Some solace can be gained from the Deloitte Global report, however. On average, large global technology firms will touch nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022, the report states. This number is up slightly more than 2 percentage points from 2019. The proportion of women in technical roles will also spur up, though it has tended to lag the overall proportion of women by about 8 percentage points.
While walking the talk at CSS Corp, we believe in celebrating diversity. We recently introduced the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), a mentorship program that promotes diversity and equality in the workplace. Take, for instance, our program named ‘WIN Charter,’ which conducts events for women employees to share learnings and create a supportive environment to overcome challenges and provide guidance—at an individual and personal level.
Lastly, I would like to mention that learning, mentoring, and upskilling remain crucial to equipping oneself while adapting to the changing needs of any tech organisation. This will go a long way in staying ahead of the curve.