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

Harvard University allowed women to enrol in the school for the first time in 1950. A remarkable feat but not the end of the story.

Despite admitting female students, the University didn’t have a single bathroom for women. When women had to use the bathroom, they would leave the building to use the female bathroom across the street.

Interesting story. But why does it matter?

Because women in the tech industry have a similar problem.

Let me explain… 

My mum got her degree in a tech related field but struggled to get a job as a black woman. This was 25 years ago but this problem still exists today for several minority groups like people of colour, people living with disability and women especially. Although programs have been made to tackle this problem, especially the gender gap, there’s another problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

Women are leaving the tech industry at an alarming rate much higher than their male counterparts.

As troubling as it sounds, it is merely a symptom of a bigger problem I will reveal to you in a moment. Right now, the question everyone is asking is “Why are women leaving tech so rapidly?”

While some leave for personal reasons, the majority leave for reasons like being overlooked, feeling out of place and a gender bias in promotion and pay.

As I said earlier, all these point to a singular problem. And it’s the same problem women faced at Harvard in the 50’s.

The tech industry is not an inclusive environment for women.

A lack of an accommodating environment for women to thrive in the tech industry is why women continue to leave and many are on the way out. Without patching up this leak, there will be no change and women will remain underrepresented.

While the emphasis on diversity and more women joining the tech industry is great, building an accommodating environment for women to succeed is just as important.

Solving the problem

These stats trouble me especially as a diversity and inclusion enthusiast who helps businesses incorporate DEI. Therefore, I’ll be presenting 5 powerful strategies which will increase the representation of women not just in the tech industry but the workforce as a whole.

1. Awareness and education: The first requirement to solve any problem is to identify it. The tech industry must shed more light on the declining presence of women and the causes like Bias, sexism, stereotypes etc. The industry must bring everyone’s consciousness to the reality of the problem by educating them.

2. Recruitment strategy: A company willing to employ a diverse group of people should also spread it’s coverage to capture a wider audience for recruitment. For example, rather than advertise in tech magazines only, Tech companies can also advertise openings in women magazines and forums . Advertise roles that are flexible and ensure that goes through all the levels right to the top. Tech companies should also diversify the recruitment team to allow for a fair and equal assessment of all potential employees.

3. Retention plan: Hiring more women is good but there must be a plan to keep them too or your firm becomes a revolving door. One way to achieve this is by considering the special needs of each person and having advanced benefits that cater to women. For example, menstrual, maternal and menopausal leave and enhance benefits for women which is empowers women

4. Succession plan: A succession plan for each position reduces the feeling of being out of place and gives the workers a sense of belonging. The succession plan should be challenged to ensure that it has diversity or we will be talking about this again in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time. We need to get this right and get this right now.

5. Communication and Language: To capture an audience, you must communicate with them first. But to communicate, you must understand their language. To get the female audience into tech, the tech industry must understand the language of the female audience to effectively communicate with them. Also at work, it’s important that communication is professional and devoid of sexist remarks of any kind.

With these 5 powerful strategies and effort from all major stakeholders, women are guaranteed a major role in tech sooner than later. business leaders can also take the Diversity and Inclusion quiz to see where they can make diversity and inclusion improvements.

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