The tech industry is one of the fastest growing industries today, rapidly employing more and more of the population, however, it still struggles with gender equality. There really is little doubt that men dominate the field, forcing women to fight gender barriers in tech. Proper representation and safe spaces for women in the workplace are still lacking. While gender equality in tech has made some strides, the status may seem grim for women looking to get involved. Despite many efforts to diversify the tech workforce, women account for 30% of roles in tech, while only accounting for 11% of executive positions.
For women looking to get involved, the barrier to entry in tech can seem rather high. Oftentimes software education and coding bootcamps enrollment is mostly male. In response, organizations are starting up that will help women get the skills required for a job in technology. Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit organization based in Canada that endeavors to inspire women to become involved in software engineering. Ladies Learning Code is one of many– other organizations are helping women develop video games, and others are helping women navigate the complexity of finding a job in tech. With better inside knowledge, women have a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in tech, and it goes beyond technology. The best employees have a high-level of empathy, collaboration and communication skills.
Having a representative development team is important. Women make up many those consuming the products being built such as video games, social media products, and apps and as of today, make the most in-app purchases. It is important for those responsible for product development to understand those using the products. Although empathy is a useful tool, representation is also an effective way to capture diverse perspectives in building a product. Having women on development teams and in charge of innovation; speaking to the needs of women, is far more effective than working on assumptions.
Naturally, there is also a stark gender divide in men to women founders. The nonprofit Women Who Tech focuses on bringing together women in the tech industry as well as giving women access to capital. To see that depth of gender barriers in tech, you don’t have to look any further than funding. Statistics show that a whopping 93 percent of startup funding is awarded to men — a percentage that has only nominally moved in the last 10 years. Allowing women to found their own startups is important in moving the industry forward. There is also evidence to suggest that women have shown more success as founders once they have been given the opportunities and tools to run their own companies.
There is no denying that the present reality of tech is less than ideal for women. It’s critical that leaders take an active role in championing women in tech and working to make their companies more inclusive to all needs. Fortunately, we are seeing progress. Tech giants such as Etsy, Facebook, and Google are working to improve gender and racial diversity with special initiatives and recruiting programs.
To really fight gender barriers in tech, companies must directly approach gender biases in the workplace, and tech leadership needs to continue building bridges across gender gaps. Large tech companies have and will continue to shape everything from the way our economies function, to the way individuals interact, and it’s imperative that women have a say in the future that technology will build.