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Closing the Diversity Gap for Women in the Tech World

Hoca

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It’s a topic that’s been discussed for years: how to improve diversity within the tech industry and make it more welcoming for women and people of color. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress on this collective goal, despite the resources that big tech companies have available to tackle the issue.

So, what can we do? Well, the glass ceiling isn’t going to break itself, and women shouldn’t have to overcome extra obstacles to achieve the same success as men.

Here’s what we can do to better understand the problem, plus some steps companies can take to address it.



Why Does the Diversity Gap Persist?

Research has shown that diversity is good for business. Teams with strong gender diversity are more innovative and outperform companies with less diversity. Yet, very little progress has been made in closing the gender and diversity gap in tech.

In fact, only about 24% of technical positions are held by women, and the gender gap is actually worse than it was in 1984. Women are much more likely to leave the industry early in their careers than men, and many feel that they cannot thrive in the tech world. Company culture is a major factor in attracting and retaining women in tech, and it’s something few companies get right.

If we want to close the diversity gap for good and increase the number of women in technical roles, it’s important to address the complaints of those who end up leaving the industry.

Solutions to Help Close the Diversity Gap

The perspectives of women and people of color are desperately needed in the tech world. We need to dive into the reasons why women leave the industry in order to come up with potential solutions. Here are just a few ways companies can start to tackle the diversity gap.

Creating New Types of Roles Within Tech

Many job descriptions are too “dry” and can be off-putting for women who want to combine their technical skills with their people skills. Plus, many women won’t apply for a job unless they feel they are 100% qualified for it, which reduces the number of female candidates for any given role.

Creating jobs that can bridge the gap between “hard” and “soft” skills in tech not only improves organizational communication but can also help women feel invested in the company so that they are more likely to stay, potentially transitioning to other roles eventually.

Providing Opportunities for Women to Learn Technical Skills

Many girls and young women are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers, but they don’t always get the opportunity to learn the skills they’ll need to thrive in the industry. Providing opportunities like tech scholarships for women can help bring more gender diversity into the industry and build up the applicant pool.

Upskilling and Advancing Women Within Tech Companies

One of the biggest failings of the tech industry is the lack of women in leadership roles. Without diverse perspectives, companies miss out on valuable opportunities and compromise their image in the public eye. One way to fix this problem is to actively advance women within tech companies and provide “upskilling” opportunities for promising employees so they can advance into leadership roles.

Overhauling Culture

Technology careers are attractive for people of all gender identities and backgrounds. However, the culture of tech companies can be hostile and unwelcoming for those who are not white, cisgender men. In order to create sustainable change and improve diversity, companies need to stop and take a long, hard look at their culture and see where they could be alienating female employees.

A “tech bro” culture might seem harmless, but it can cause women to stay silent in meetings and discussions, endure harassment, and even leave the industry. Company culture involves many different factors and starts with leadership. Clear policies and modeling inclusive behavior are essential for a healthy company culture that promotes equality.

The Diversity Gap: An Urgent, Complex Problem

Closing the diversity gap is critical. There are many benefits for both the companies involved and society as a whole. However, it’s not a quick and easy problem to solve. It’s a complex issue that doesn’t have a single answer.

It starts with addressing the diversity gap in education and providing more opportunities for girls to explore their interest in STEM, but it also requires tech companies to put effort into the right initiatives. Now that we’ve seen so many efforts to improve gender equality and diversity in the tech industry over the years, we know that most of them fall short.

Tech leaders need to work backward and consider all the obstacles that women face on their journey into the industry and address those obstacles one by one in order to close the diversity gap that has persisted for far too long.

Photo Credit

Image by Claudio_Scott from Pixabay



Guest Author Bio
Sarah Daren


SD-headshot717-150x150.jpg
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.
 
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