Women in tech. We’re still talking about this?

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Women in tech. We’re still talking about this?
What are you doing to make sure there is career progression and opportunities for growth for women in tech?
Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Yes, we are. And for good reason.

Despite many conversations about gender diversity in tech, women are still underrepresented, underpaid and too often discriminated against in the tech sector. While progress has been made in recent years, women working in technology roles are still significantly outnumbered and face a myriad of challenges in their careers.

I’ve been to many events for women in tech throughout my career. I’ve always found them to be incredibly supportive environments, however it has often felt like important learnings have stayed right there in the room.

One of the most common requests we receive is for our assistance in increasing diversity in our clients’ technology teams and, in particular, how they can hire more female candidates. Unfortunately, it is equally rare to find organisations that are actively doing anything to change the systemic problems that cause imbalance in the first place. Until a fundamental shift towards addressing the root causes occurs, nothing will ever change. To do our part on both fronts, we decided to create an event for women in tech with a difference.

Hosted by Georgie Dent and featuring speakers Angela Lam, Emma Jones and Rebecca Chenery, our event “Women in Tech: Are we there yet?” looked at the roadblocks that continue to impact women in tech roles. Those that weren’t able to tune into the live discussion were offered the opportunity to partake in polls and have their voice heard through an online survey.

Throughout the discussion, we captured first-hand experiences from attendees to produce this report that we will share with our 9,000+ clients around the world.

The online chat throughout this event was like nothing we had ever seen before. Our attendees shared deeply vulnerable experiences of discrimination, bullying, harassment and general obstacles that were distressing to read and swiftly challenged any assumptions that these issues are a thing of the past. Some of these comments have been included in this report, however I wanted to highlight a few to demonstrate that there are still so many roadblocks.

  • “It’s a man’s club. If you speak out as a woman or are not 100% positive about everything a male has put in place, you are labelled as negative.”

  • “I have men who work FOR me who get paid about $30k more than me. I’m not shy about asking why that’s a problem. “We don’t have the budget to fix it”, but we have the budget to blow on pet projects and catering.”

Taking a deep dive into what these challenges look like for women at each stage of their professional career, the research reveals some interesting results. As women climb up the corporate ladder, salary negotiations and cultural fit become increasingly larger hurdles to overcome, while across the board, ‘self-deselecting based on feeling that you don’t meet 100% of the criteria’ was the most prevalent challenge. This calls to question, why are women limiting themselves in applying for roles in tech, and once they have climbed the ladder, why do they still feel like they need to fight to fit in? Other challenges included the 'biased wording of job ads’, ‘difficulty articulating/ selling achievements’, and finally ‘interview bias/ discrimination’.

Our vision is to empower people to build a better world of work for all. Our goal with this report is to help companies around the world level the playing field for women in tech. As you read the report, you’ll see a number of clear recommendations that any business can implement today to ensure that they attract and retain top talent who happen to identify as female. The three top recommendations were:

  • Promote more women in leadership.

  • Provide more mentorship/sponsorship opportunities.

  • Fix pay disparities.

What are you doing to make sure there is career progression and opportunities for growth for women in tech? Are there systems in place to ensure fair decision is made on promotions and pay rises? Measuring to KPIs and not personal relationships or presenteeism is the first step towards greater equality. And as for women in those positions of power, it’s about throwing the ladder down to help other women climb up. Fighting for greater equality, opening up about opportunities, and advocating for women from the inside is key in making a real difference.

Thank you to our wonderful event speakers and the many women who shared their thoughts and experiences for this project. If you would like to have a read of the full report and findings, you can do so HERE.

Kara Smith is Managing Director at Talent, Auckland.

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