Four young strong women or girls standing together. Group of friends or feminist activists support each other, women supporting women

Gender inequality in the workforce is a persistent issue, with little improvement year on year.

In 2021, tech roles held by women only increased by 2%. Furthermore, one-third of women in tech roles said that they had witnessed gender bias. Women’s Equality Day is a chance to reflect on this continuous struggle, and what can be done to further women’s progress.

“Women’s Equality Day is the perfect opportunity for all organisations to reflect on their initiatives to support women, to ensure that they’re doing everything they can,” explains Dr Shirley Knowles, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at Progress. “It’s important to be objective and assess whether the organisation’s initiatives are creating real change.”

Svenja de Vos“We need to keep leading the charge towards a more inclusive, diverse and fair working environment. Not just for us, but for future generations of female leaders,” adds Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb Global.

Not all is perfect in paradise

Research by McKinsey & Company has shown that although organisations have improved women’s representation across the board, there is still a significant gender imbalance. Leaseweb’s de Vos points out that the “promotions to leadership roles are not equitable” and there is still a “lack of representation” of women of colour.

Dean EgnyteDean Chabrier, Chief People Officer at Egnyte, believes that in the tech industry in particular the “workforce is still experiencing underrepresentation of women and minorities” and therefore are missing out on valuable contributions. Although a minority of the workforce, women are still expected to meet higher standards whilst being paid less than their male counterparts. This, alongside unclear progression, can lead to women feeling demotivated.

Joy Ravenhall“It creates male-dominated environments that many women do not want to be a part of and the lack of role models makes reaching these heights on the career ladder seem near-impossible”, summarises Joy Ravenhall, Marketing Director at Tax Systems.

Agony aunt worthy advice

Although many organisations are implementing strategies to combat gender inequality, perfection is not easily reached. Until then, women are having to come up with ways to make their voices heard, give themselves the confidence to strut their stuff and pave the way for a better future.

Jen Locklear

“Get used to being the only female in your team,” states the Women in Tech group members at Six Degrees, adding that women need to “feel confident to ask others to help you learn and progress.”

Jen Locklear, Chief People Officer at ConnectWise, suggests that “organisations should consider what they can do to propel further change, exploring initiatives such as offering additional support, flexible working or potentially delivering a female-centred mentor programme.”

As important as it is to pave the way for the current female workers, it is especially important to keep pushing for an even better future for the future women in tech. Caroline Seymour, VP of Product Marketing at Zerto, explains that we need to “actively mentor young girls and encourage them to pursue STEM studies in higher education.”

Every little helps…how tech companies can make a change

One of the biggest issues that working women face is the additional roles within their day-to-day lives and struggling to fit this around the expected 9-5 working hours. Providing a flexible working policy enables women to juggle their extracurricular responsibilities whilst also allowing men to support their partners.

For that reason, Tax Systems provides flexibility in its working hours, explains Ravenhall.

“As long as the job gets done, we don’t mind if this is the traditional 9-5, during school hours, or after typical working hours, whatever best suits our employees.”

Progress also offers flexibility, with Knowles suggesting: “offer women self-paced learning modules and peer coaching, which can be done at their own pace and thus does not risk excluding part-time working mothers, or those who have career gaps due to maternity leave.”

Glasswall has increased its flexibility in working hours and is attempting to break down the barrier by providing early education in software development skills.

Anne Tiedemann, SVP of People and Investor Relations for Glasswall, explained: “Ensuring that our job adverts are more inclusive and gender-neutral is an important step forward in the market. And, showcasing the contribution our women are making at the company not only encourages more women to apply but highlights role models and leaders in the industry.”

Women of the future

It is vital that businesses keep striving to better themselves and create teams that are equal, diverse and inclusive.

Samantha Thorne, Head of People at Node4, explained that if the issues surrounding gender bias and inequality are ever going to change, “the industry must recognise the role it has, not only in providing more opportunities for women in the workplace but also in encouraging more girls to consider a career in tech.”

Zerto’s Seymour suggests that to fix the gender gap issue “we need realistic initiatives that can be easily implemented today, such as: creating gender-neutral job descriptions, ensuring women are part of the interviewing team, ensuring that interview rounds include diverse candidates, conducting regular pay equity reviews to attract and retain candidates, offering mentorship and advancement programs, and regularly evaluating hiring and promotion processes to eliminate bias.”

The only way is up…

Change is only possible with innovation, time, commitment, and long time investment, if successful, this could lead to a more diverse and stronger workforce.

Gianna Driver, CHRO of Exabeam, articulates that, “when diversity, equity and inclusive practices are implemented effectively, organisations become vehicles for embracing vulnerability, empowerment, and the celebration of authenticity”.

“We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that women’s equality remains a top priority this Women’s Equality Day and beyond,” adds ConnectWise’sLocklear.

A Women in Tech group member at Six Degrees said: “Don’t be afraid to be bold and to use your voice.”

“I have worked in technology since 2004, and I admire so many of the younger women I meet in this space who seem to be so much more courageous than I was at speaking up, sharing ideas and making themselves known.”

Working together, we can ensure that the powerful and confident young women joining the tech industry are able to progress, and want to stay.