Business inequality, gender gap vector concept with man at advantage. Symbol of discrimination, different opportunity, unequal treatment. salary. Eps10 illustration.

Bridge over unequal water: Closing the gender gap in the IT industry

Business inequality, gender gap vector concept with man at advantage. Symbol of discrimination, different opportunity, unequal treatment. salary. Eps10 illustration.

By Paola Cannone, Senior Director, International Marketing at Commvault

The lack of women in the technology industry is a topical issue that is well-known and regularly discussed.

Whilst there are a number of national awareness days – in the last few months alone, we have celebrated Women in Engineering Day, International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and the overarching International Women’s Day – the stark reality is that progress in closing the gender gap remains slow. Positive initiatives like these do engage organisations and gain media attention, but the circumstances are not changing at a rapid enough rate. In fact, in June 2022, it was reported that women face a 100-year wait for the gender pay gap to be closed.

According to a global compensation report (BCI’s 2022 Global Business Continuity Management Compensation Report), only a third of the industry’s employees are female. These women earn an average of 7% less than their male counterparts and are less likely to earn any financial bonuses – whilst 40% of men received a bonus of 15% or more, only 25% of female employees received the same reward.

Although differences in the gender gap are widely acknowledged, arguably there is too much complacency – this needs to change and action must be taken. A broad and systematic approach is needed to achieve change on an international level.

Back to basics

In the world of technology, the low presence of women arguably has its roots in education. The number of girls studying science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) subjects remains much lower compared to boys. Despite the 21st century proving a progressive time in many aspects, gender stereotypes within education remain a significant obstacle to encouraging more girls to engage with and study STEM subjects. Old established patterns undeniably play their part – girls are far more likely to study creative subjects, such as Art or English, whilst boys dominate Science and Maths classrooms.

In order to combat this inequality, schools and teachers have a huge role to play in removing stereotypes. Opening girls’ eyes to the opportunities that lie in the science and technology fields at an early age will help transform their career goals. It is essential for girls to feel empowered and inspired about choosing the more male-dominated fields.

This is the first and crucial step in closing the gender gap within male-dominated industries. Although it will be a very gradual process, sustained investment is crucial to success – we should not give up when change is not immediately evident. It will be worth it as, ultimately, greater gender equality at school level will encourage a better balance in the world of work.

Don’t let it slip

Although partially down to the education system, businesses also have an important role to play in closing the gender gap at school level. Businesses can foster great relationships with educational institutions by visiting local schools, giving talks to the students, and providing work experience opportunities that open young people’s eyes to the possibilities of the industry. Having female employees visit these schools, rather than a fully male team, will show young girls that they can prosper in the sector.

However, the work to encourage and support women must not end once they have left school – it is just as important once they have entered the workforce, especially since those that make it into the technology industry are 45% more likely than men to eventually leave and pursue an alternative career path.

Too often such initiatives to promote equality and inclusivity are pushed aside due to lack of time or resources to ensure their successful implementation. But crucially, such action does not have to be disruptive or radical. Some of the simplest measures can have the biggest impact.

Here are my top tips for making the workplace an inclusive and supportive environment for female colleagues:

  1. Role models – it is important to enforce a culture and a business environment where women can excel, progress, and reach the top of the ladder. By having women in senior positions, girls starting their careers have someone to look up to and can aspire to follow in their footsteps.
  2. Flexibility – particularly important in the ‘new normal’ of the hybrid working world, offering flexible working is a key aspect of retaining female colleagues and making women feel supported at work. Too often the responsibilities of childcare and other domestic duties fall to women. Whilst that is another issue in itself, offering flexibility provides a balance between their responsibilities inside and out of work.
  3. Initiatives – an additional step that all organisations can take is to introduce initiatives or schemes that support their female employees. Actively promoting and supporting the national awareness days that aim to encourage more women into the industry will show your female employees that they are valued and supported. In addition, establishing groups for women in the company that allow them to come together can be very empowering.

Final thoughts

It is a commonly discussed topic, but the issue of gender inequality can never be revisited enough. As a starting point, managers must not be afraid to mix up teams and add flexibility to the average working day. It is too easy to get caught up in the politics of it all, but we mustn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal and the reason we are trying to achieve it. After all, those businesses with a diverse workforce are proven to be the highest performing, most innovative, and have the best financial results.

Paola CannoneAbout the author

Paola Cannone is Senior Director, International Marketing at Commvault, and has worked at the company for one year. Prior to this role, she spent time working at FireEye, Symantec, and Veritas. She is responsible for driving the International marketing strategy and tactical execution across demand generation and field and channel marketing, supporting the business in achieving its revenue goals.

How deep tech can help close the gender gap

three people working on laptops smiling, digital skills

The term ‘Deep Tech’ was coined in 2014 by Swati Chaturvedi, CEO of investment firm Propel(x), to describe a new category of startup “built on tangible scientific discoveries or engineering innovations”.

Since then, investment in deep tech start ups has reached billions of dollars, with the potential rewards in the order of trillions. The categories of technology covered by deep tech include blockchain, automation and robotics, 3D printing, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud computing and high-speed networks. It also includes developments in the life sciences such as genetic modification, nanotechnology, quantum computing and new materials.

Deep technologies are now creating a revolution which has implications for every aspect of an organisation, delivering elevated forms of value to customers in a manner which can both scale and achieve impact not only in relation to financial results, but in a manner which benefits people and our planet through solving our most pressing social and ecological challenges. However, despite the significant technological advances and the new opportunities which they represent for organisations, women are still greatly underrepresented in this industry.

When we look at digital skills in the workplace, businesses and organisations are currently not managing to achieve parity between women and men. According to the European Commission’s 2020 Women in Digital (WiD) Scoreboard, women are still less likely to have specialist digital skills and to work in the digital field compared to men, with only 18% of information and communications technology specialists in the European Union being women.

The aim of deep tech is to find solutions to complex problems through scientific and engineering ingenuity. However, the challenge of achieving breakthrough discoveries is to find a way to facilitate meaningful collaborations across ecosystems by including those demographic groups who do necessarily have traditional socio-educational backgrounds. So in order to help leaders develop a more systemic understanding of deep technologies as a whole, rather than just understanding it in relation to technologies, we have developed an expanded conception of deep tech by defining it through the four key pillars of deep impact, deep thinking, deep talent and deep collaboration.

We have found this multi-dimensional view of deep tech helps leaders to search for solutions through forming transdisciplinary teams who have a mixture of scientific knowledge, artistic creativity and analytical skills. Having a suitable degree of diversity in technology and innovation is important to companies’ ability to stay competitive because a more balanced workforce can help them innovate more and achieve better business results. For this to happen though, leaders need to implement initiatives to make women feel more welcome and comfortable in the workplace and show that they are serious about solving these issues.

Women face many issues in deep tech, firstly when starting their career, and then progressing within their organisations. One of the key developments that can help young women the most are the next generation of deep tech platforms to improve the quality and accessibility of education for students and adults that at the same time also develop their self-esteem and confidence. The majority of my current projects in deep tech are exploring platform-based solutions not just for individual learning, but with the purpose of creating meaningful access for entire communities by preparing people to help them fully make use of technologies from which they have previously been excluded.

While the internet has democratised access to education and created new ways for women to demonstrate their talent, creativity and ability to think systemically, to close the gender gap in deep tech, organisations still need to rethink their recruitment policies and support women from diverse backgrounds, ensuring that they are fully able to flourish and make their best contributions to innovation projects.

Those women who have been able to develop careers in deep tech encounter many challenges relating to various biases by male colleagues. While women benefit from support and mentoring, even male colleagues in purpose-driven organisations may behave in a way which fails to acknowledge the value of their contributions and which therefore demotivates them, resulting in the organisation losing a valuable source of creativity and insight.

The opportunity for deep tech to revolutionise organisations and business ecosystems is immense, with new perspectives opening up new forms of value for customers and clients. To succeed, design practices, agile methods and elevated leadership within this new generation of amplified organisation which value diversity and inclusion themselves need to transform. HR departments therefore now have a leading strategic role to play in the design, communication and implementation within their organisations, given that our conception of Deep Tech shifts the emphasis from advanced technologies to a human-centric view of deep impact, deep thinking, deep talent and deep collaboration.

For this reason, our conception of deep tech is built on the underlying foundations of the five universal human values of peace, truth, love, righteousness and non-violence. These values are universal in that for millennia they have been seen across many different cultural traditions as the highest expression of humanity. As a senior advisor to CEOs and top teams, I have been teaching leaders how to introduce these values into their organisations and deep tech initiatives. The reason is that when the universal human values are present in an organisation, leaders are better able to help women fully participate by improving an organisations innovation capacity for creativity, adaptation, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

Maria Moraes RobinsonAbout the author

Maria Moraes Robinson is the co-author of Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation and the CEO (Brazil) of business consultancy Holonomics