Does it really matter that there are fewer women in tech than men? Yes.
Till today, women remain underrepresented in tech company positions. What’s even more disheartening is that 50% of women abandon their technology career by the age of 35, and that women are leaving tech roles 25% higher than men.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, the challenges for women became even greater. Between juggling their careers, caring for children or elderly parents, parental responsibilities, and the anxiety of keeping the family healthy, these are engulfing women in the workforce in multiple roles to live up to societal expectations.
And while things are getting better, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Whether you are a woman in tech, or you’re a man who wants to diversify his team, what tangible steps can you take to create a more inclusive environment for women in tech, and how can you recognise and correct gender bias along the way?
1. Mentor and promote women
There are far fewer women in tech than men, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as ambitious as men in climbing their career ladders.
You want to do everything in your power to retain that talent and help them become more valuable to the tech industry.
Offer them extra support and mentorship to develop the female tech talents by providing them easy access to professional development tools.
Don’t underestimate the power a mentor can have. 75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development. Prepare them for senior roles, just like you should do for any talent you see within your organisation.
And when the time comes, be sure to promote women when they exceed your expectations and have the potential for a leadership position. Avoid making assumptions around what a woman’s career might hold or what breaks she may take if kids are in the picture.
Women are given fewer opportunities in this space, so it’s time to throw some opportunities their way and even the odds.
2. Offer necessary support
It’s certainly not easy for anyone to balance between family and career. What you can do as a leader is offer support and flexibility to employees who are also caregivers.
Allow them to work from home on certain days of the week. Alternatively, arrange a rotation system where the person is at home for a week and in the office the next.
Having a child is a huge life event. Companies should support expectant mothers and fathers-to-be by boosting employee benefits including more parent-focused incentives such as extensive maternity and paternity leave policies.
3. Be inclusive
When talking to female colleagues at the office, encourage her to share more about a project or product she’s working on. Ask her more about an idea she brought up in a meeting and have a genuine interest in the work of those around you.
Women are often neglected when it comes to taking credit at work. By addressing and recognising their efforts, you can create a more inclusive environment where they feel more valued and motivated in their jobs.
Use inclusive language in both speaking and writing, especially when it comes to posting job ads. Did you know only 38% of job ads use gender-neutral language?
Females could get the impression that they should look elsewhere for work when a description mentions something like “manpower” or “mankind” or says “he” instead of “they”.
One of the easiest approaches is to steer clear of gender altogether by referring to “humans,” “people” or “customers.”
4. Recognise gender bias
Would you be more lenient on a female employee who comes in late than or leaves early due to childcare issues than a male employee?
Many are familiar with the concept, but often overlook that it can happen unknowingly in subtle, unconscious ways. All companies, not just the board of directors and management, need to be mindful of gender bias.
Start evaluating whether you or someone around you is making a choice unaware that gender is attached to it. Take a look at your policies to eradicate any implied gender biases.
Create a better future for women in tech
Supporting women in the workplace has always been relevant, but when COVID-19 happened, it was absolutely necessary.
Some companies implemented too many changes in supporting women in tech, but it backfires. Simply with small actions, offering support, and showing an act of solidarity towards women in tech, you can retain a more diverse and inclusive workplace.