4 Ways Leaders Can Better Support Women in Tech
The operational, cultural, and fiscal benefits of having women on any team have been well-documented. So, why is the tech world still lacking women along so many rungs of the corporate ladder? The answer: Most tech leaders simply aren’t doing as much as they should to make attracting, hiring, and retaining women employees (and leaders) a top priority.
The lack of a welcoming culture in tech industries has been a problem for women for a long time. DataProt investigated the phenomenon and noted that women comprise only 19% of STEM graduates and hold just 24% of computer-related roles. This doesn’t bode well for tech industries in the long run, especially given all the advantages that come with a gender-diverse workforce.
The Benefits of Women in Tech
McKinsey & Company research has shown that women bring unique perspectives to their occupational lives — and that those perspectives are good for business. Women are often better able to build relational alliances and show great empathy with colleagues and direct reports, for example. When in leadership positions, women statistically provide more emotional support and are more likely to take action to prevent burnout in their teams than their male counterparts.
What most people miss is that women aren’t just good at the “softer” side of business. They also excel in technical roles at work, bringing unique perspectives and abilities to everything from coding to web development.
Because women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech world, their uniqueness pays off — particularly when they move up the ladder. One study found that Fortune 500 companies with at least three women in leadership roles had a 66% higher ROI over those that didn’t.
How to Open the Door for More Women in Tech
If it hasn’t been proven by now, you can read it here: The presence of women in the boardroom, the C-suite, and the supervisor line is good for tech and good for business. Leaders just need to open the door to women more deliberately, starting with these critical steps:
1. Remove Gender Bias From the Pay Scale.
It’s embarrassing that we still have to talk about gender pay equity in the 2020s, but unfortunately, it’s still a problem. In the United States, women’s and men’s earnings aren’t even, and it’s worse for women with marginalized identities.
Women still only make 82 cents for every dollar that men make, per a report by Payscale. Ask yourself: Would you rather make $60,000 a year or $49,200? No one would choose the latter. Why expect that of women?
Companies that are serious about paying equally across the board can start by adopting more transparent pay structures throughout their organizations.
Transparency assures potential and current employees that they’re being judged and paid fairly based on their experience and education, as well as the responsibilities of the job.
When candidates accept employment offers at tech firms that pay equally and transparently, they feel more engaged with their work and more invested in staying and growing with the company.
That’s important because an unfortunate number of women leave tech because they don’t find the culture or pay rewarding, literally or figuratively. To keep women in tech moving upward, organizations have to make it clear that they’re being paid competitively and fairly.
2. Promote Equally Across All Internal Candidates.
Inside every company exists a pool of employees who want to advance in their careers; the tech industry is no different. Women in tech roles want to grow professionally to expand their skills, make more money, and become the change leaders that the industry needs.
Your employees, no matter their gender identity, can’t succeed if they’re not provided with the opportunities to apply and be considered for promotions when positions open.
One way to show women in tech workspaces that they can advance is by helping them create clear road maps to move up within the company and grow their careers.
These road maps serve as motivational visualizations of what’s possible and provide necessary steps and markers to achieving their career goals. Women who can clearly see growth opportunities within their organizations will stay to achieve and do more for the company.
Because this means less employee turnover and more retention of legacy knowledge, everyone wins.
3. Encourage a Safe and Supportive Culture.
By and large, tech has been a male-dominated world where women have commonly reported feeling like unwanted outsiders. It’s time for so-called “brogrammer” attitudes to be laid to rest once and for all.
Women can’t feel like they belong — which is one of the primary reasons people leave jobs in general — if they can’t be fully themselves. Women shouldn’t have to deal with sexism, exclusivity, or microaggressions in the workplace.
Overt sexism is often easier to stamp out because it pops up more obviously within workers’ language, jokes, and attitudes. Microaggressions, such as experience or authority being questioned, looks or perspectives being judged, or the classic “being mistaken for an entry-level employee,” are harder to pinpoint.
Nevertheless, tech companies that want more women to invest in them long term should work to stamp out sexism and microaggressions across the organization — especially companies with any history of losing talented women to culture concerns.
This might require training and a true culture shift, but these tasks are important signals to your employees that your workplace is safe.
4. Get Serious About Work-Life Balance.
During the pandemic, domestic gender role expectations went under a microscope, and for a good reason. Even during the shift to remote work in 2020, many women were still forced to leave the workplace to care for children and loved ones. The result? Almost two million women are still absent from the U.S. labor force.
At the same time, the tech industry is struggling to fill open roles. Tech companies owe it to their workers to make work-life balance possible and accessible. It’s not just women who put a high price on this priority in employers: More people of all genders value this factor than ever before.
Work-Life balance requires a significant change in the “hustle-at-all-costs” culture that permeates the tech field and strains workers who have outside lives — which is everyone.
Women won’t sign onto or stay in a role if they don’t feel that their health and satisfaction are taken seriously. As you become known as an employer who cares and respects people as human beings, employees of all kinds — women especially — will be excited to stay and invest themselves in your organization.
Women are ready to help disrupt the world with new and emerging technology. But they need to know they’ll be met with the culture and opportunities they deserve when they walk through the door. It’s up to you and other leaders in the industry to make it happen.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by thisisengineering; Pexels; Thank you!
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