International Women’s Day “celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world.” The day is a call to action for accelerating gender parity, as groups come together to honor women's achievements and push for equality.
It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the IT industry. Women make up only 17.5% of the global tech workforce and hold only 5% of the leadership positions. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge, because “a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.” In this spirit, we interviewed the women and some of the men on the CrucialLogics team, to uncover and discuss the challenges women face in the IT industry today. Here are some of their observations.
The good news
The team members noted that:
- There is lots of opportunity for women in the technology sector, because companies are actively adding women to their teams. This is also positive news income-wise, since there is good money in IT.
- There are many benefits to hiring women, as they are strong project managers, and they excel at establishing and maintaining relationships with clients.
- Programs that invite conversation and gender equality seem to be working, as the number of women in technology is growing, but just not fast enough.
The team did note that historical gender paradigms are continuing to evolve. Men are no longer expected to be the tough, brave breadwinners of yesteryear, while women are no longer expected to stay at home and raise the family. Nevertheless, there are fewer women in tech by a significant ratio and that needs to be addressed, perhaps as early as high school and how we encourage women to enter the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. And when it comes to IT salaries, Pew Research notes that women earn only 87% of what men earn in the computing fields, so there is still much work to be done.
Some of the challenges the team members highlighted are:
- Women in tech are rarely in senior positions.
- It’s difficult to be heard in a male-dominated environment.
- Some IT roles require evening or weekend work that upset family-work balance.
The team noted that IT isn’t always a strict 9 to 5 business, and some positions require evening or weekend work, so a partner who shares the family/home responsibilities can help. However, 1 in 8 women around the globe are single mothers, bearing the entire burden of childrearing while working. Perhaps we need to look at more ways to assist women with childcare and balancing work and family commitments to help level the playing field.
When it comes to being heard and advancing to leadership in the male-dominated world of IT, a 2017 Pew Research Center Poll found that 50% of women working in STEM jobs experienced gender discrimination. Encouragingly, women working in gender diverse teams were less likely to perceive gender inequalities and feel overlooked in the workplace. So, we must continue to bring gender diversity to our industry.
What do women do differently at work? The CrucialLogics team members responded that women are passionate and bring a positive energy to the workplace. They said that while men tend to be more linear, women tend to have more creative ideas and plan, prioritize and multi-task well. Overall, the team voiced that there is no difference in production output between men and women, even though they make take different approaches.
The women and men polled at CrucialLogics suggested that:
- Hiring practices need to ensure women are considered.
- Organizations must treat everyone equally.
- Overall, gender should not be an issue – hiring should be about the work, the experience, the passion and not the gender.
These must be driven by leadership, and the number of women in leadership roles is growing. In the US alone, over the last five years the representation of women in senior roles has been making gains. Between 2015 and 2020, the number of women in Senior VP positions saw 5% growth, from 23% to 28%. Women in the C-Suite grew 4% over that same time period, from 17% to 21%.
The progress toward gender parity in the workplace is slowly moving forward, so we need to keep the conversation going. For more on International Women’s Day 2021 and how we can all help to build a gender equal world, click here.