Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.

How to ensure women thrive in typically male-dominated industries

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Article by Karni Wolf, Engineering Manager, Snyk 

Statistics show that just 22% of software engineers are women, and as one of them, I’ve experienced my job from a slightly different perspective from my male counterparts.

It’s not always easy being different from the majority of your colleagues, which women in tech, and particularly in the developer community, often are. So, we need to ask ourselves why the number of women entering the industry is so low and what can be done to change this?

The onus is on the organisation

When it comes to hiring, businesses need to understand they’re not just doing women a favour. They should actively want to employ more females for the different perspectives and skill sets that they can bring to a team.

Research has shown that almost twice as many women suffer from imposter syndrome as men – meaning role models and examples will be key to women aspiring to enter any male-dominated professions. Once a business chooses to hire with the intention of creating a prosperous environment for everyone, no matter their background, then this cycle will start to break.

Building a truly inclusive culture that celebrates differences and encourages individuals to make mistakes is so important. Although the responsibility does largely lie at the feet of the employer, it’s everyone’s role to actively foster an aspirational culture that welcomes women as well as anyone who may not fit the traditional mould. After all, creating a diverse workforce will help boost productivity and create a company that people genuinely want to be a part of and feel welcomed into.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

To subvert the industry norms and create a remedy for a lack of diversity, organisations will of course need to review their hiring practices. However, the journey doesn’t simply end there. The onus then needs to move onto the battle to retain diverse talent. The best way of retaining any talent – regardless of background – is through creating a culture where belonging and job satisfaction are a priority. How can a business do this? Transparency! Troublingly, despite asking for raises as often as men, women are less likely to get them. Transparency around compensation updates and promotion cycles, which actually help individuals understand the options available to them, will be key in convincing female employees that this is a company that really has their best interests at heart.

Furthermore, despite being more likely to receive top performance ratings, women are less likely to be thought of as having “high potential”. As such, women have traditionally been seen  less as “go-getters” in their careers – a rhetoric that is still holding many women back, even today. Of course, trailblazing women across the world are overcoming prehistoric barriers everyday, but many will still need support, confidence, and inspiration. This is why we need to be focussing on educating young women on the roles available to them. They need to believe that with hard work, anything is possible.

My advice to women and business leaders

My advice to women looking to get started in an industry that’s traditionally male-orientated? Always be open to new experiences within your professional career. Even if you’re not sure that the role you’re looking to enter is where you want to be long-term, it’s likely a great starting point for you to leap in a new direction. If it’s proving challenging to land your first job – don’t give up! Equally, if your first position in the industry isn’t what you’d hoped – keep with it. You can always find a better alternative with a more suitable culture, technical challenge, pay grade, or whatever it is that you’d like to improve.

To any women who may be reading, I hope that this will at least have opened your mind to the possibility of entering an industry where you may not feel totally comfortable or welcomed from the get-go. To any managers or business leaders reading I ask that you stop transferring responsibility to women, take initiative yourselves, and create opportunities for your employees no matter their background.

Karni WolfAbout the author

Karni is an Engineering Manager at Snyk and has been with the company since 2018. She previously worked as a Software Engineer at Dynamic Yield after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science in 2016. Based in Tel-Aviv, Karni values being able to work in diverse teams and understands the importance of creating a work environment not only inclusive of women, but inclusive for all. She’s been active in local communities since 2013, volunteered at she codes; a community of female software developers and is currently managing a community of female engineering and R&D managers at Baot. In 2021, she co-founded a new community for engineering managers, of all backgrounds and levels of experience, EMIL.