According to a report from the Women in Tech Network, less than one-third of the worldwide technology workforce is made up of women. That same report states it will take 133 years to close the economic gender gap.
Statistics from some of the world’s largest tech companies show how much growth is needed. For instance, 34% of Apple’s workforce is female but only 24% of technical jobs are held by women. Women also hold only 18% of CIO or CTO roles in the world’s 1,000 largest tech companies.
To put it politely, that is abysmal. We need to create and promote space for women in technology leadership to pave a way for those behind them.
Revealing the Industry’s Problems
Tech organizations – and really, organizations across industries – hold biases against women. There is a false sense of support – because most of the time, women are not enabled to perform the duties of women. If an organization does not allow women flexibility for motherhood, then they are not supporting women. The same can be said for women in any family circumstance – single mothers, nursing mothers, women without children, and caregivers.
Women dominate the market of caregiving, which is an underappreciated and often unrecognized responsibility. According to a recent statistic, caregivers spend 23.7 hours per week providing care for loved ones they do not live with, and 37.4 hours per week for recipients in their immediate care. And 75% of caregivers are women.
It is imperative tech employers (and all employers) understand the dynamic of every woman and their needs.
Change from the Outside In
I firmly believe industry change starts with the educational system. We need to break down stereotypes and stigmas in fields like science and math that result in fewer girls showing an interest or feeling like they do not belong there. This starts as early as elementary school and continues through high school and secondary education. STEM should be the progress of collaboration in communities and a direct result of providing access to these learnings – to everyone.
From a hiring perspective, companies must tip the scale and work toward numbers to change the dynamic. We need leading tech companies offering more jobs to more women, not trying to reach a threshold, and pitting multiple women against one another for one job. This creates an unhealthy dynamic and is not focused on the ultimate goal of bringing more women to the tech workforce.
An area I am extremely passionate about is getting more women-owned companies funded and carving a path for women to become funders. Less than two percent of women ever meet $1 million in their businesses – and it’s time for that to change. Having female general partners inside venture funds is a necessity, and we need more women cresting the $1 million mark in their business.
Funds must stop navigating the “profile” of an investor. Varying women from differing backgrounds can promote and elevate the outcome of funds and ensure more is invested in women-owned businesses. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, VC firms with 10% more female investing partners make more successful investments at the portfolio company level, have 1.5% higher fund returns and see 9.7% more profitable exits.
The Bottom Line Is…
Be intentional. Be intentional about how women are hired and what the expectations are to genuinely support women. The scarcity of top jobs and leadership roles in this industry only breeds scarcity.
Companies must invest in or create resources dedicated to fostering women in their growth and success. Learning and leadership skills are invaluable, and having tools in place for mentorship ensures they have the support they need.
One of the largest points of the conversation is pay equity. Women must be paid equally as men for the same role – no questions asked. Without the balance of wealth, there is also an imbalance of power across boardrooms that women occupy.
To fully shift the dynamic, we need to navigate what women need, the education they receive, the funding they create, and the overall multiplicity across the boardrooms in the top technology organizations. It may be cliché, but tech companies need to put their money where their figurative mouth is.