With increasing advancements in the digital economy, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in tech. What was once almost an exclusively male industry has become more and more diverse as the tech sector has made strides to becoming more inclusive, though it is no secret that women are still in the minority.
Along with the rise of Cloud-based technology, there has been a significant drive to recognise and support women in Cloud-based roles and even an increase in women-led Cloud start-ups. The introduction and rising acceptance of flexible working practices has fueled entrepreneurial women, who are now leading the charge in founding businesses and becoming a driving force for economic recovery.
In UENI’s 2020 report on gender and small business, from a survey of 22,257 businesses, approximately 7205 were launched by women. This sets the number of UK businesses currently owned by women at 32.37%, which is a remarkable increase from 2016 when it was just 17%.
Being a woman in the digital and tech industries
Despite the increase in opportunities for women in Cloud-based roles, it is no secret that the wider digital and tech industries remain largely male dominated. According to research by Women In Work 2020:
- 1 in 5 of ICT graduates are women
- Only 23% of women are on boards in technology organisations
- Women have a 30% share of employment in the technology industry
To overcome the underrepresentation of women in digital and tech, leaders on the industry should look to remove obstacles that challenge women entering the sector.
These obstacles include:
- Gender stereotypes
Tech and IT roles, in particular, have a many pre-existing stereotypes that are harmful to equality. Many professionals in the sphere are trying to overcome this by highlighting how a career in tech, IT and digital involves collaboration, project management and big-picture thinking, skills that women notably excel at.
- Lack of role models who are women
The lack of women in senior positions in the tech and digital industries suggests that those women who are currently excelling in the sector, are significantly less visible than their male counterparts. This means that young women entering the sphere may be discouraged by the apparently fewer opportunities for mentorship, access to supportive networks, and help to enhance their career progression.
- Skills and qualifications
Women are subtly discouraged from pursuing STEM and information technology-related subjects from a young age, which impacts the amount of women pursuing tech, digital and IT-related higher education, and then entering the jobs sphere. This is something many schools are seeking to readdress and combat, but won’t impact the sector for many years to come.
5 steps to combat the gender divide in technology and digital
To increase representation of women in the sector, it is crucial for businesses to build diversity and inclusion into their company culture and offer workplace flexibility by:
- Being mindful of gendered language in your job ads
Be wary of gendered language in your mission statement for the role, or the terms you use to describe the role and its responsibilities as many adjectives have been proven to appeal more to male or female applicants.
For example, words such as active, competitive, dominate, decisive, fearless and objective are often considered to be masculine. Whereas words like community, dependable, responsible, committed, empathetic and supportive are regarded as more feminine.
Unfortunately, unconscious bias can work its way into the language of your job ads, but an experienced recruiter, like Energize, can help you avoid the pitfalls of unconscious bias, keep your job description inclusive, and can even help you create a wider diversity and inclusion strategy for all your hiring.
- Being transparent about salaries and working hours
Recent gender pay gap reports published by the sector have demonstrated there is a need for companies to be more transparent about their employees’ salaries. Having structured pay grades and publishing information alongside job ads may encourage more women to apply.
- Offering workplace flexibility
Advertising flexible working hours can not only attract but retain women. Offering both full-time, part-time, job shares and remote working can benefit women as they are able to balance work demands with other commitments like care, education, etc.
Unfortunately, it is still the case in many societies that women take on more of the responsibility when it comes to childcare. Perhaps whilst we seek to implement flexible working for women and better facilitate their working life, we should also acknowledge that societal norms keep women in this position and bar men from taking on more childcare. For example, in the UK men are only offered two weeks of paid paternity leave, compared to Sweden, who offers 480 days of parental leave to be split between the couple as they see fit, with 90 days exclusively reserved for each parent.
- Promote and recruit women into senior roles
Proactively promoting and recruiting women into senior positions will give more junior female employees role models to aspire to, be inspired by and learn from.
- Offer career progress and opportunities
Present clear career progression and opportunities for women to develop in your business, so you can nurture and retain them whilst demonstrating that you are dedicated to investing in their long-term ambitions.
How can Energize help recruit diverse digital and tech talent?
Providing you with the best-possible recruitment experience is what drives us. We pioneered service standardisation within the recruitment industry via our implementation of Net Promoter Score®, and through our continual pursuit of customer excellence, customers choose Energize time and again, forming lasting relationships and enjoying a more effective – and successful – hiring process.
With a global network of more than one million active and passive candidates cultivated over 14 years of recruitment expertise, Energize empowers organisations to access high-value local talent supported by specialist Consultants experienced in scaling businesses with the experts they need.
We can help you create truly diversity and inclusion-led recruitment strategies to ensure you’re attracting a diverse talent pool. From job advert language assessment, to supporting and nurturing established women in your organisation, we can help you readdress the gender imbalance in tech and digital.