How Can Women Change Their Role In The Tech World? Part 2
In 2016, how is the tech gender gap being addressed?
As pioneers in the technology industry we take a keen interest in what’s going on in our world. There’s long been a vast gender gap in tech, as women are far less likely to be found in tech roles than their male counterparts. How does this look in 2016, though?
The Global Gender Gap: from Asia to Australia, and everywhere in between
According to a report from UNESCO, women in Asia face strong stereotyping, social anxiety and a shortage of female role models. However, Asian organizations to help women overcome their exclusion from the tech world are on the rise: Destination Imagination, based in Singapore, and the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Malaysia are two such examples. In India, a free program called Indian Girls Code focuses on girls from underprivileged backgrounds, inspiring them to code.
In Europe, The European Centre for Women and Technology unites over 130 organizations supporting women in the tech industry across Europe. The Ada Awards recognize women’s achievements by awarding “Digital Girl of the Year”, “Digital Woman of the Year” and “Digital Impact Organisation of the Year”.
Another example is the WISE campaign: their mission is “adding another 1 million women to the STEM workforce in the UK.” Digigirls and TechSisters, based in Estonia are events for high school students interested in IT and a non profit organization aimed to inspire local women respectively.
The Australian government has promised to invest $13 million over the next 5 years to entice women to enter the STEM industries. The Science in Australia Gender Equity program is another push to keep women in their STEM jobs.
In underdeveloped countries not only do women face stereotypical discrimination, but they also combat additional challenges on a daily basis. The Organisation for Women in Science in the Developing World and the Elsevier Foundation both contribute to women by providing them with grants, training and networking opportunities.
There are also borderless organizations focusing on the globalization of women in technology. Technovation, for one, holds annual competitions for female entrepreneurs from all over the world. Projects created by the girls included social and environmental solutions and awareness apps. Other examples are Little Miss Geek and Girls in Tech.
Having looked at the outside world, what can we achieve on the inside, in our own businesses and companies?
Until recently big companies did not make their equal opportunity data available publicly. But now as more and more companies are releasing their diversity demographics, we are opening the doors to conversation and possible action to change women’s presence in the tech industry.
Catherine Ashcraft suggests examining the shortage of women in tech as a human and business issue. Ashcraft suggests the way to proceed is to: “Set goals, plan strategically for how you will meet these goals, amply resource these efforts, and continually measure progress. Consider regularly reporting diversity data in the corporate annual report.” Ashcraft also suggests to make changes to the type of data we collect. We need to measure contribution within jobs. Ashcraft also encourages us to work towards reducing unconscious bias within managers. This alone could reduce huge numbers of unfair dismissals or treatment within the workplace.
The recruiting procedure itself seems to contain some hidden hurdles: job descriptions have subliminal messages deterring candidates from applying, whilst interviews do not touch on the relevant qualities of the interviewee and therefore overseeing a possible prospect for the job.
Ashcraft also comments on sponsoring rather than mentoring, where the protégé’s work is brought to the attention of the right people in the right places. She also expresses how important it is to evaluate all kinds of common work situations and working towards removing the subconscious bias. For example, in meetings always make sure that everyone gets their fair share of contribution opportunities, and that due credit goes to those who present an idea. Flexible working hours also need to lose their stigma of someone not able to do their job properly.
Creating equal opportunities for all in the workplace is vital, is your business doing enough?