Despite national conversations about equality and diversity in tech, and a recent pledge from the government to support women back into STEM jobs, representation of women in this important sector is still lagging far behind, especially when it comes to senior jobs – writes Jina Melnyk, Managing Director of Corndel Advance.

LinkedIn recently reported that only 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women, indicating that there is clearly work to be done in terms of both attracting women to the sector, and especially around retaining them. Only then can employers support women to progress into more senior roles at the helm of this important and growing industry.

Addressing the barriers

Societal and unconscious biases are just two of the factors that can prevent women from advancing in the data and tech industries, with a lack of women role models in the tech industry combined with the fact that the sector has been male-dominated for a long time.

A recent survey by Women in Tech found that 90% of people believe that the tech sector would benefit from a gender equal workforce, while 61% of employers surveyed said that they were now working on improving gender balance by recruiting and promoting more women in tech roles.

However, the numbers show that there is still a long way to go to move towards true gender equality in this sector. We firmly believe that only the right sort of training and career development can be the most effective and efficient way to solve this problem, providing women with both the technology and leadership skills to excel in tech and data careers and closing the gender gap. Providing access to tech-based courses should be a priority for businesses.

How to ask for training in your organisation

To support more women into leadership roles, organisations should now be investing in workplace training, mentorships and executive coaching programmes that are fully inclusive and welcoming, allowing more women to progress into the top posts in their profession. Many companies have already taken clear steps to address gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but others may not yet have such clear development pathways for female staff.

We know that it can be daunting to ask your employer to provide more professional development opportunities, but emphasising the value of your upskilling to the company can be a good way to approach a line manager or HR department to request some training.  You may also wish to point out the importance of the need for the company to develop tech sector-savvy female leaders.

Once you have decided what sort of training you wish to undertake, or have discussed them with a manager, you need to take an inventory of the skills you currently have and the ones you need to improve. You can then write a proposal for your learning and development manager or line manager that clearly states your objectives, and explains how meeting them will help benefit your personal development, as well as the business as a whole.

You  should consider how your new skills would improve your performance at work, how they would align with the organisation’s strategic objectives and what opportunities might the organisation be missing out on by not providing the training. Most workplaces expect employees to set objectives for the coming year in their reporting, so if you are near to an end of year assessment or appraisal then you can package your training ideas as a part of that.

Find the right training partner

Finding the right training programme and provider is key to help with achieving training and development goals. With the right training partner, organisations can develop confident, empathetic leaders and create more allies in the workplace to help more women advance in their careers and thrive in leadership and management roles.

Your employer may already have partnerships with training organisations, but you should check that these provide what you need, rather than trying to fit in with a programme that is some distance from your desired outcomes. This is especially important if you are looking for training not usually provided by your workplace, particularly in a sector where opportunities may not always be available or apparent.

Corndel offers bespoke workplace training to help women reach senior leadership level in their organisations. Our programmes, designed specifically for our clients, enable both women and men to develop their capabilities and improve their skills in data literacy, digital transformation, leadership and addressing organisational challenges. We help them to apply these skills quickly in their roles, allowing them to become competent and confident tech leaders.

Attending workplace training also makes you a member of an inclusive forum of other learners and peers from your own or other organisations. You get to share your experiences, discuss ideas and grow together in this group, which can be very empowering. Trainees can share insights about issues they are dealing with, and this helps individuals build relationships and develop self-confidence, enabling them to  grow as leaders and foster confidence in their teams.

It is only by maximising the professional potential for all workers that we can achieve a truly gender-balanced workforce in the technology industries, which in turn will lead to a range of positive outcomes for businesses, including enhanced employee engagement, talent retention and morale.

About our courses

At Corndel, we’re trusted by over 150 leading organisations as their strategic training partner for cultivating influential leaders and managers in their businesses. Through our Advance programmes, our coaches work with organisations to shape workplace training programmes that best fit their needs. This often includes creating leadership training programmes that aim to encourage more women to apply for senior roles inside their organisation by bringing together cohorts of women and men to share experiences and perspectives, as well as facilitating 1-2-1 coaching sessions.

About the author: Jina Melnyk, Managing Director, Corndel Advance

An experienced MD, CFO and senior leadership executive, Jina has a passion in developing other executives to be their best selves, challenging them to do the unexpected, and building their confidence. Jina and her team have a track record in equipping leaders with the capabilities and skills necessary to meet organisational objectives in today’s challenging times. In doing so, leaders transform themselves, others and the business.