Women in Tech: Continuing to close the gender divide
Having more women in tech, especially in senior roles, is something that is important to Alternit One. One of our Founding Partners, Carrie Whamond, who has twenty years experience working in the tech industry, explores the importance of equal representation and getting more women into the industry.
March is always an important month in the calendar for acknowledging the gender disparity between men and women within the workplace - notably in the tech sector. With every year that passes the gender gap is closing, however we still have a long way to go to have a truly equal workplace when it comes to pay and representation. According to the data research agency Ilostat ‘in almost every country, regardless of income level or development stage, women are under-represented in the information and communication sector’ which is inclusive of IT. In February 2023, the organisation UN Women shared the following statement: ‘Today, women remain a minority in both STEM education and careers, representing only 28 per cent of engineering graduates, 22 per cent of artificial intelligence workers and less than one third of tech sector employees globally.’
We need equal representation of genders in technology and finance because the knock on effect without it is that women’s participation in shaping future policies and ideas surrounding software, services, policies and governance will remain limited. There are several reasons why welcoming and encouraging women to enter leadership roles in tech are important. Perhaps the most attractive for business owners is that companies are more profitable when they embrace diversity in the C-suite. In 2022, McKinsey & Company shared findings in a report called ‘The future of diversity, equity and inclusion’. The report shared that companies in the top 25% for gender diversity with regards to their executive teams were also 25% more likely to have above-average profits in comparison to companies who scored low on diversity.
According to the UCAS and the UK government, ‘it is a well-known fact that women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) university courses. In January 2021, the organisation STEM Women shared findings that only 26% of students taking up science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. This figure then translates into 24% of workers following graduation. Whilst these stats are not conducive, they are encouraging in the sense that they show an increase of women taking up these subjects. However, moving on from this statistic, it was reported by Ilostat in 2022 that in the sector of IT and technology, women earn 21% less than their male counterparts. In addition to this, Ilsostat also shared that women experience considerably lower rates of promotion which currently stands at 52 women for every 100 men. The industry still has a long way to go in order to promote real change.
Whilst encouraging women to invest in a career centred on STEM is one part of the puzzle, women working in senior positions is another. On a recent panel that I hosted on behalf of HFM, the opening remarks stated that ‘only one in four of the C-Suite is a woman. According the 2022 McKinsey report on Women in the Workplace, female leaders are leaving roles and switching positions at the highest rate we’ve ever seen’.
Efforts to counter obstacles women face in the workplace include company initiatives. However, in 2021, a McKinsey & Company report stated that "women leaders are up to twice as likely to spend substantial time on DEI work that falls outside their formal job responsibilities." Such examples include mentoring other females, organising charity programmes that support a company’s mission and supporting employee resource groups. A critical part to encouraging equality within tech can be to ease the pressure of responsibility for DEIinitiatives throughout leadership teams, and via organised working groups.
At Alternit One, we pride ourselves on creating a culture that actively supports women in senior roles. This mentality is a huge part of our company culture and we believe that proactively supporting other women is key. We seek to find champions from within the business to support this ethos. I always think: “good people take good people with them” – which is why it is vital that the team at A1 surrounds itself with the very best, so that gender becomes irrelevant.