Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The tech industry has long been notorious for having a male-dominated population, certainly less women in technology than men. Unfortunately, women only encompass a paltry 25% of the employees at the majority of tech companies.
Although numerous other factors contribute to the disparity, many organizations are attempting to address cultural issues that adversely affect underrepresented groups in the industry.
In this article, I have compiled a list of organizations making a tangible difference by striving to provide opportunities and actively working to close the gender gap. I have also looked into what requires changing to ensure women are fully included in all facets of the tech industry.
Recent changes in the tech industry
In recent years, there has been an uphill struggle to increase diversity in the workplace and address cultural issues that adversely affect underrepresented groups. In particular, women of colour find it more difficult than their male counterparts to enter tech-related fields.
In 2022, while more women graduate with degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), they are also less likely to pursue careers within those fields. For example, only 27% of engineers are female. This number was even lower at just 17% in 2008 when Google conducted its first-ever diversity report on its hiring practices.
To improve these numbers for future generations of young women entering the workforce, many large companies have created initiatives to encourage young girls from all backgrounds into STEM fields. This includes leadership roles within these organizations once they’ve acquired the appropriate qualifications.
Which companies are striving to break the gender gap in tech?
With the above in mind, I have created a list of organizations making a tangible difference for women in technology and working to close the gender divide:
- Adobe – Policies designed to close pay gaps.
- Amazon – Reaching out to specific target candidates that may feel under-qualified to empower them to apply.
- Apple – Introduced Entrepreneur Camp to allow female app developers with a place to thrive and provide them with the tools to succeed.
- Cisco Systems – Hosts annual career events, including International Girls in ICT Day, to support women in tech.
- Facebook – Creating new mentorship and brainstorming programs to empower women in tech.
All of the above companies have taken positive action to improve equal pay and eliminate barriers for women working within the technology field.
Making the tech industry fully inclusive.
Breaking the gender gap is an ongoing process. While the above companies offer their employees a great work environment, building a genuinely inclusive culture remains challenging. It’s not always about hiring a diverse team; moreover, creating a culture that values diversity and inclusion.
As someone who has spent many years in the tech industry as a frontend Developer, I would regularly hit a brick wall. Commonly I would find the concerns I raised ignored, and the ideas I generated were brushed aside or discarded. For example, feedback would take an extensive amount of time– delaying my deliverables, and my suggestions to improve specific features were completely ignored. However, I remained undeterred and passed on some essential advice that helped me.
- Do NOT be afraid to speak up when something feels wrong or unfair. I was often told that “you’re too sensitive” or “just let it go.” But if you don’t speak up, nothing will ever change!
- Stick together. The more we all do this together, the more likely it will become normal behavior for everyone else to start speaking up.
- Know your value and what you have to offer. When you know your worth, it’s only a matter of time before everyone around you picks up on the culture and what is acceptable.
Employee feedback and accountability
Listening to feedback from the community and cultivating an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion is increasingly becoming more critical. It is more than just hiring from a broader candidate pool or offering generous parental leave policies.
The tech industry has been exposed for its lack of diversity. Still, many companies are taking measures to change that by listening to employees instead of hiring solely based on qualifications.
Companies must foster a sense of community among their employees to ensure everyone feels valued and supported. It also means being transparent about company values, goals, and vision statements so employees feel comfortable raising issues. Finally, accountability is critical; if companies don’t hold themselves responsible for creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels included, nothing will improve.
Leaving bias at the door
Regardless of size or budget, companies must take active steps to overcome unconscious bias and make employees feel welcome and respected. To implement this, they need a clear vision that reflects the values they want their company culture to embody. They also need a transparent hiring process that ensures diversity is prioritized at every stage of the recruitment process. Finally, companies should encourage diverse perspectives through an inclusive environment where people can feel comfortable speaking up about issues that affect them personally.
Good, but a long way to go
While these companies are making strides, there’s still a long way to go.
Many tech companies in Silicon Valley have yet to make meaningful commitments to improving their treatment of women in the workplace. For example, Google recently introduced a new paid family leave policy that provides up to 18 weeks at full pay for new parents. Whilst this is undoubtedly an improvement over its previous policy (12 weeks at half pay and 10 weeks at full pay), it still doesn’t match Facebook’s generous 20-week paid family leave policy. Or even Apple’s more generous 16-week paid leave parental leave plan.
Furthermore, many tech companies are hesitant about providing flexible or remote work arrangements for their employees. The absence of flexible working can be particularly problematic for parents who need flexibility due to childcare responsibilities.
Positive reinforcement for women in tech
I wrote this article hoping it will help women looking for jobs where they can thrive and work without fear of discrimination. I also hope to see these companies continue to expand their efforts to reach underrepresented groups and level the playing field.
The tech industry has made great strides in recent years, but much work still needs to be done. The good news? We’re seeing more and more companies taking an active role in making their workplaces more inclusive, and that’s something we can all celebrate!