Insights

Women in tech: time to act

Advances in technology have brought a period of enormous change, creating new ways of living, working and doing business. But is technology still a man’s world? And is our industry really doing everything it can to bring women’s thinking, creativity and input to the table as we help shape the ways of the future?

Women in tech: time to act

5 Mar 2019

The importance of diversity in the workplace

Research highlights that the buying power of women has increased substantially, due to higher educational attainment, increased participation in the workforce, greater representation in management and professional roles and, consequently, wealth accumulation. Tech therefore has to evolve to better serve women as customers, while this increasingly female customer base drives a need for more women in tech. Who better than female technologists to design, develop and deliver the products women want?

Smarter teams

Problem solving is at the heart of innovation. Diverse teams introduce new, fresh ideas, keep biases in check and help team members question cherished assumptions. Strengths traditionally seen as ‘female’ like communication, multi-tasking and thinking with the end customer in mind are surprisingly rare in our industry, but they’re important ones to tap into for success.

Diversity in tech isn’t just a case of ticking the boxes at hire though. Organisations need to have inclusive practices so that everyone is heard. This makes teams smarter and ultimately makes organisations more successful.

Tech organisations must play their part to build a sustainable and visible female talent pipeline through initiatives like sponsoring tech events in schools and creating internship programmes.
Kate Hyndman, Non-Executive Director, FNZ

The fourth industrial revolution

Machine learning and other AI technologies are evolving rapidly and will soon become ubiquitous in technology enabled products and services. This growth has created an increasing need for women to build viable business applications that cater to a wide variety of customers.

We need women to help eliminate unconscious bias – incorporating diversity in machine learning enables diverse gender data sets; while gender interaction principles help build successful AI applications. Women have much to bring to the table, contributing to the diversity of thought in algorithm design as well as ethics discussions around AI.

Developing talent and leadership

According to to a study by Girls Who Code and Accenturewomen made up 37% of the computing workforce in 1995. In 2018 that number has dropped to 24%. It’s predicted to fall to 22% by 2025 if nothing is done to diversify tech's talent pipeline.

Numerous studies show why young women become disillusioned by a tech career path:

  • lack of inspiring teachers
  • lack of understanding about the variety of jobs in tech
  • lack of role models.

Tech organisations must play their part to build a sustainable and visible female talent pipeline through initiatives like sponsoring tech events in schools and creating internship programmes.

Another area of concern is the low proportion of female representation in management, c-suite and board level positions (in many industries, but especially in tech). A key finding from Woman in the Workplace 2017 found nearly 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman. Women at all levels need to be able to see other female role models in action.

High performing organisations tend to be characterised by engaged, connected female leaders – their positive, productive cultures are embodied by female employees who undertake challenging, rewarding roles in supportive settings.

Research overwhelmingly highlights that engaged female leaders create better organisational outcomes. To be successful, organisations must proactively adopt strategies to develop women at all levels.

Women in tech - animated quotes

A call to action

We can keep talking about the importance of diversity in tech, we can keep bemoaning the lack of women in tech. Or we can act to encourage women into our industry and support them to thrive. We all have a part to play in delivering cultural change. We can all do our bit to inspire the current and next generation to both study STEM subjects and explore careers with organisations like FNZ.