To understand what the future could be for women in technology, it is important to understand where they are now, what the challenges are and what steps can be taken to facilitate change. There are several reasons why technology as with many other sectors is a challenging space for women:
- Working around the family
- Lack of female leaders & role models
- Unconscious bias in recruitment
- Lack of education and pathways for young women
Working around family
The majority of the world forms families and has children. In the past due to pregnancy and childbirth, this responsibility has tended to fall on the shoulders of women. Times have changed however and with many men wishing to take an equal share in parenting and the running of the home, there must be a continued drive to shift perspectives and convey that looking after children is a joint family responsibility. If we can change the way society thinks about shared responsibility for children, then it would allow more women to re-enter the workspace post children and further their careers.
Lack of female leaders and role models
Whether we realise it or not, having a mindset and belief that you can succeed in a particular industry or organisation often hinges on a sense of belonging. What this means is for women in tech that they look at the leaders in a business and see other women who have enjoyed success. There are many women now leading the way in tech, here are just a few:
Sheryl Sandberg – chief operating officer of Meta Platforms, founder of LeanIn.Org
Caroline Wong – Chief Strategy Officer at Cobalt
Kimberly Bryant – Founder of Black Girls Code
When women see other women in leadership roles it both inspires and increases confidence and belief that there is a place for them at the table.
Unconscious bias in recruitment
Much is being done to address the situation with changes in the organisation’s leadership, culture, and the implementation of a diversity recruitment strategy. This once again reinforces the need for diverse leadership and women in positions of responsibility who can effect change. Without women leaders in our tech businesses, they cannot influence job descriptions and hiring processes. They cannot sit on interview panels if they don’t already have a seat at the table in the organisation. It is evident therefore the leadership team must change before companywide recruitment changes to actively bring more women in.
Lack of education and career pathways for young women
Young women need to believe that a tech career is a valid choice for them, and this starts at a young age. It requires an agile strategy in our education establishments that encourages tech as an option for girls and young women. Businesses and organisations need to invest in having a presence at careers fairs or coming in and speaking to groups of girls and young women so that they see the tech industry as a valid career path.