The lack of women in the tech remit is an issue that has prevailed for some time, writes Joanna Fagbadegun, Sales Director at Lorien. There’s a wealth of statistics that highlight the disparity between male and female representation, with recent estimates suggesting that just 26% of tech jobs are held by women.

Whether it’s due to a lack of representation, or imposter syndrome taking hold – women can be disadvantaged at almost every level. Less than one in ten C-suite leaders at tech companies are female, only 3% of CTOs or Technical Directors are women, and only 3% of Venture Capital funding (seed, early and late stage) go to all-female teams – compared to 68% going to all-male teams.

Further pressure on this divide is being driven by the tech industry’s gender pay gap, which is 16%, higher than the 11.6% UK national average.

Supporting women in tech

While finding a solution to this issue isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s important to constantly reassess what is influencing this scenario. What’s driving the gender imbalance now is arguably different than it was a decade ago, and female tech professionals need to be equipped with the knowledge of both what is potentially impacting their career progression and how they can work with their employer to address this.

According to our own data, despite the hybrid world of working, women could be facing more pressure to turn up to the office than their male counterparts, which is only exacerbating the gender imbalance. In our study we found that women in tech are twice as likely to be seen in the office – with 16% of females in the workplace at least three days per week compared to 8% of men.

However, this trend is not necessarily an indication of a greater desire to physically be in the workplace. In fact, when asked what the most important element of a job description is, most women (37%) said flexible working. This hints at a gender imbalance where women are more likely to want flexible working; but are less likely to get it. But why?

Addressing the challenges

There’s a number of potential drivers that could be influencing this. The higher percentage of women feeling the need to be in the office more could highlight the continued impact of imposter syndrome in the female workforce. It could, however, also be indicative of the make-up of the current tech workforce. With more men in senior-level positions, male employees are more likely to have a say in their own working hours, as well as the working models adopted by the wider team. This means that what women need or want in their roles in terms of flexibility may be being neglected.

While it may be encouraging to note that less than 5% of all tech candidates – irrespective of gender – want to work in the office full time, the on-going return-to-work focus from many employers has the potential to further hinder progression for women in the sector. It’s no secret that females already take on the lion’s share of domestic and caring responsibilities outside of the workplace. Any mandated returns will only hit women harder.

There’s also the added issue of how female tech experts and leaders are able to be best equipped to excel in a fully remote or hybrid landscape. With  45% of female business leaders saying they find it difficult to speak up in virtual business meetings, there is the risk that the female voice is heard less in this environment. Data from Qatalag and Github also suggests that 54% of remote workers report feeling pressure to show their online status during the working day. And with 69% of business leaders believing that those starting their career remotely will struggle to progress, it’s evident that the landscape women in tech are trying to navigate is highly complex.

Helping you

The onus is very much on tech companies and employers to create an environment that doesn’t negatively impact female progression, work-life balance, or worse yet – drive women out of the industry completely.

However, change can’t come without education of the pitfalls that females face in the tech sector. There are a range of fantastic businesses that are inadvertently excluding women due to a lack of awareness of the barriers that their female talent pools are facing. While suppliers are working with employers to address this, two-way dialogue that focuses on positive change will be the driver of the best success.

I also believe that all women involved in the tech remit in any way have a role to play as mentors to each other, as well as those new to the sector or interested in a career in tech. That includes being a strong support network for each other and vocalising the benefits and sheer range of opportunities for women in tech. Moving the conversation on will be no easy task, but together movement can be made.

Joanna Fagbadegun, Sales Director at Lorien