Gender equality is more than just ‘lip-service’. As businesses around the world mark International Women’s Day and celebrate some of the headway we have made, it’s plain to see that we are still not where we need to be.
We like to think the days of discrimination are long gone, and may even believe that we have moved into a new age of belonging and empowerment, one that would have been unimaginable and unattainable a few decades ago. But the age-old issue of gender-based bias still clings on to society even in the modern world.
In tech, we see a rather obvious imbalance. Our industry, like many others, has long been male-dominated. And while we have trailblazed in many ways, we have trailed behind in many others.
With theories of equality not necessarily translating into practice (and sometimes only equating to mere tick-boxing exercises), we need to ask ourselves:
- where are we still seeing the gaps?
- what are the opportunities for true, lasting change?
The slow pace of progress
Deloitte Insights reported in December 2021 that, while women make up 32.9% of the overall workforce, the proportion of women in technical roles was way behind at 25.0%. According to Tech Nation, the ratio of men and women in senior tech roles in the UK has remained almost exactly the same since 2000, with only 22% of directors being women. Beyond this, only 16% of women have had a career in technology suggested to them – quite a difference from the 33% of men who have – according to PwC.
After years of (attempted) progression, awareness-raising and diverse recruiting efforts, why are women so lacking in the tech industry? Diversity in Tech quoted a study that looked at the two biggest barriers for women in tech:
- a lack of mentors (48%)
- a lack of female role models (42%)
These two issues are as difficult to combat as they are important. How can we attract more female talent into an industry that is so lacking in this regard? The answer is that we must break the mould before it has been given a chance to take hold.
Planting a seed in the minds of young women can inspire them into laying the foundations for an exciting and fulfilling career in tech.
It takes a village
But this will be a joint effort. It’s not just on the existing women in tech (leadership or not) to draw in more women, it’s down to the men. It’s down to the management. It’s down to those tasked with building a business’s core culture and values. It’s down to every single employee to align themselves to those principles, thereby making the tech industry a place where women not only want to be, but feel safe and valued.
Mentoring is something everyone can take up the mantle of. As a father of two daughters, Solidatus Co-CEO Philip Miller has made it his mission to teach and inspire young women from school age about ‘all things tech’, and why a STEM career is not just for boys. “We believe that turning the dial on getting more women into tech can be achieved through the right type of mentoring from an early age. It’s our goal to attract more female talent into our industry, and we can’t do that from merely talking about it. We have found the right formula for mentoring and inspiring women to not only pursue a career in computer science, but to eventually mentor the next generation themselves in a trickle-down and reinforcement of aspirations.”
Similarly, our Development Specialist, Nadia Mahgerefteh, has not only been using her voice to campaign for more gender equality and diversity in the workplace, but even more importantly has been using her skills to help the next generation of women build successful careers in tech. A full-stack developer specializing in UI/UX, Nadia recently shared her knowledge and skills by mentoring a group of students during an eight-week web development course for Code First Girls. "I don’t think I would be in the role I am now without the amazing mentors and teachers I had during school who picked up on my interest in tech and encouraged me to pursue it. So to come full circle and be able to mentor other women interested in tech has been extremely rewarding. A lot of young women are interested in tech but don’t get enough support to turn that interest into a career. I believe that it’s important to approach women early and help give them the skills and confidence they need to pursue a career in tech."
Small steps make a big difference
The opportunity to support women and bridge the gender gap in our industry should always be grabbed with both hands – from the top, down. Whether it’s by campaigning all year around, by mentoring girls embarking on the journey of choosing a career path, or just by posting your solidarity on International Women’s Day. All shows of support, however small, are important. For women, even the smallest steps forward for their rights and equality have made the biggest changes to their lives.
And though we have come so far and achieved so much as a collective, we must not stop here. We must keep pioneering and championing women in our industry, so that one day we can look back with pride, knowing we were part of the solution and that together we were able to #BreakTheBias.
We are always on the lookout for new members to join the Solidatus team, who will not only add to our product innovation, but will help nurture and build on the Solidatus culture and vision. Check out our careers page to see our latest opportunities: