Women are still largely unrepresented in the tech industry, at every level. A report by Entelo shows that women represent only 19% of the worldwide tech workforce in entry- and mid-level roles. As you go up the ladder, representation slips down. At the senior level, women hold 16% of positions; at the executive level, it declines to 10%.
How can we bring women into tech organizations and help them stay and grow in order to achieve leadership roles in those organizations? How do we ensure equality in our tech organizations?
As the President of a tech company and the mother of a daughter, these questions are personal.
At least in our corner of the world, we are seeing more women in technology, more women get promoted, and women running technology companies. This is positive proof that a lot of women have a great aptitude for science; are equally curious and creative as men; and given our natural strength in communication skills, women have as much to offer and contribute as men.
Here are a few examples of how we can recognize the value of women in the technology sector:
As consumers, we benefit from having more than one perspective in technology, whether it’s more women writing code, designing a user interface, or thinking about the experience of a customer journey through a website. And it’s not just women – the bigger the mix of ethnicities, age groups and gender, the better the outcome is going to be. In fact, diverse companies often perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion.
Speaking of the workplace, let’s embrace the fact that our leadership style differs from that of men, and use it to benefit the organization. Whether it’s leading a company, a team or even a country, our organizational and problem-solving skills, our ability to keep calm under pressure, and our instinct to be transparent all come into play.
Many of women’s leadership styles align with what is now considered to be good leadership. It’s a more thoughtful, inclusive approach, one where you are guiding your employees instead of always dictating to them what to do. The former approach creates more trust and autonomy among employees.
In the technology realm, where a strong balance of art and science is needed to solve problems and discover new ways of doing things, you want to nurture that autonomy and creative spirit. In the fast pace of technology, companies are often hiring quickly based on years of experience, often penalizing women. So, the next time you are ready to hire someone, look at their potential and their character, not necessarily their experience.
I see this in our organization. Part of Next Pathway’s ability to be innovative in our space is because we've given our employees freedom – with some boundaries – to explore. We’re looking to build an environment that fosters comfort and security, as opposed to one where employees feel that if they make a mistake they're going to get fired. It’s the opposite of the shame and blame culture that you see everywhere in organizations. That kind of environment is stifling; you’ve got to let people feel like they can fail.
We know that women are underpaid for the same role as men, this is seen not only in the technology industry, but across the board. You can’t have true equality until women are paid the same amount of money as men for similar work. As an entrepreneur, I always say, "Just pay me what you think I deserve. I don't want a break because I'm a woman, and I certainly don't want to make anything less because I'm a woman. I just want to be paid for what I'm worth." But many women aren’t paid what they deserve or what they’re worth. Perhaps this is why so many women often leave the workforce and start their own businesses. Companies that provide women equal pay, flexible work hours and the same opportunities for promotion will win out in the long run.