We’ve talked before about why women are underrepresented in tech. An equally important discussion is how gender diversity can be encouraged and supported in this sector.
The tech industry remains a male dominated world. However, there are an increasing amount of initiatives pushing forward, disrupting preconceptions and broadening expectations of women in tech. With the likes of supermodel Karlie Kloss (Kode with Klossy) taking the center stage, the gulf between women and the tech industry is slowly being bridged.
This is how you can play your part in turning the tide.
Join the revolution
You don’t have to look far to find incredible organisations and campaigns that are all about gender equality, STEM education and empowering women to realize their tech potential – and they need your support!
How to encourage gender diversity in tech? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!
One of the main causes of gender inequality in tech can be traced back to the classroom; uninspiring STEM teaching approaches and girls being made to feel like they can’t or shouldn’t be interested in a career in technology.
However, at both local and global levels, there are tons of ways to support technology education for the next generation.
The WISE Campaign, for example, encourages women and girls to value and pursue science, technology, engineering and maths-related courses (STEM) in school or at college.
Fast forward from school to university and the largest student-run conference for women in computer science in the United States is WECode (Women Engineers Code). WECode regularly host talks, workshops and more. Be it through sponsorship or membership, tech companies and individuals can support these campaigns, maintaining the momentum they’ve created towards gender diversity.
Girls in Tech (global) and Girls Who Code (US based) are two of the leading online NGOs focused on everything to do with women working in tech. They provide hackathons, bootcamps, mentoring programs, courses and more. There are numerous ways to get involved with these organisations: from fundraising, partnering or volunteering to setting up your own local hub.
Debate, dialogue and discussion remain as important as ever. Encourage your teams to attend tech conferences and events so that they can learn and be at the forefront of topical tech debates, insights and ideas.
More than just an award show, The Grace Hopper Celebration (named after computer scientist Grace Hopper) is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. This annual summit, organised by Anita Borg, Institute for Women and Technology, is a hotbed for technology insights, boundary pushing and knowledge sharing.
Women in Technology International (WITI) is one of the longest running organisations promoting the achievements of women in technology, founded by Carolyn Leighton in 1989. They’re constantly hosting network events but their Women in Technology Summit is the one not to miss. It’s been running for 25 years and is networking at its finest!
According to PwC, only 22% of students can name a famous woman working in technology.
There is a severe lack of women in leadership roles within companies. So chances are, female workers won’t have access to many motivational role models in the workplace.
It’s important to applaud gender diversity and inspire women. At celebratory events, such as award ceremonies, female workers are exposed to and inspired by women doing exciting things in the tech industry.
The Women in IT Global Award, for example, showcases women in technology in London to New York, Ireland to Asia. Their aim is to promote the achievements of women in the sector and identify new role models.
A gender diverse workplace
For tech companies wanting to encourage gender diversity in their business and within their tech teams, there is a whole host of initiatives that can be embarked upon. These 3 approaches are your best place to start.
1. Involve women in the hiring process
“Women are much more likely to join a company when they can interact with women who are already there, and can testify to a company’s commitment to diversity. In fact, experts say, one of the deciding factors on whether or not a female candidate accepts a job is if there was a woman on the interview panel.” – Maynard Webb, Board member for Salesforce
2. Expand flexible work/life policies
It’s time to follow in Netflix’s footsteps when it comes to flexible work/life policies. Employees, including birth and adoptive parents of any gender, can take up to a year off at full pay following the birth or adoption of their child.
At some point in their careers, women who want to have a family may have to ‘step out’ of their professional role for a time. Inflexible work/life policies, such as maternity and childcare allowances, are a sure fire way to ensure that your workforce is predominantly male.
Gianna Scorsone at CIO highlights the importance of these policies being repercussion free. Not only do companies need to greater their support for women in this way, they need to promote it; encouraging women to use these advantages without worrying about the repercussions.
“While your company may provide an unlimited PTO policy, if employees feel they will face consequences for utilizing this benefit, whether they be blatant or more subtle, then it becomes counterproductive and can lead to increased turnover, especially among women.” – Gianna Scorsone
3. Reduce unconscious bias
The term ‘unconscious bias’ is a hot topic when discussing women in tech. What does it actually mean? Unconscious bias is when we automatically think and/or act in a certain way, without realizing it. Certain stereotypes are so ingrained that we don’t even know we’re judging a situation with them.
Tech companies can reduce unconscious bias during the recruitment process by using coding assessment tools to screen and test candidates.