Research shows that women only make up about 25 percent of the tech industry’s workforce, with these statistics trending in the wrong direction over the last few decades (Aveda IT 2018, ISEMAG). It begs the question, why aren’t they equally involved in its creation and maintenance?
The answers to this question are complex, but one thing is clear: we need more women in tech. A drop-off in young women’s interest in tech happens between ages eight and 13—the encouragement needs to come early and often, and it’s on us to deliver it.
Greater opportunities for women equate to greater opportunities for society
Making the tech industry more open to, and encouraging of, women ensures a more equitable participation of the population, which allows us to progress with greater fairness, peace and harmony. It is, simply put, the right thing to do.
Creating greater opportunities for women in tech benefits not just those women, but all of us. Alarmingly, most innovations in technology are informed by male perspectives. Bringing more women into tech jobs will foster a greater diversity of perspectives to innovations and to the industry overall, which will inevitably lead to improved offerings and forward progress.
In addition to all of this, experts are currently forecasting that a large percentage of jobs in the retail and customer service sectors will be permanently eliminated due to the COVID crisis and the automation revolution (University of Chicago). Women dominate these positions, with 60 percent of retail jobs held by women. Meanwhile, tech jobs are projected to be the top source of wage growth in the U.S. There’s never been a more critical time to make the tech field accessible to women.
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Increasing women’s presence in tech requires deliberate shifts in recruitment strategy
Companies targeting women to join their workforces in greater numbers need to be deliberate in their recruitment to reach this group. Consider if your recruitment approach and processes convey the desire to make your workplace accessible to women. Who is in your advertisements and promotional collateral? What stories are you telling about the experience at the company, and from whose perspectives?
Leadership matters a great deal, as well. Make sure your company’s leaders state openly, as a part of the organization’s mission, the aim to be more inclusive of women. Consider writing into your mission where, over time, the company seeks to land in terms of its composition and culture.
Invest in women’s education and workplace retention
Beyond recruiting, education is a critical component of any effort to increase women’s presence in tech. Studies show that early exposure and encouragement in computing is important to develop interest and passion in the field, and plays a key role in determining whether an individual pursues this profession. (code.org)
Investing in education pathways designed to make tech more accessible to women is a good place for companies to start. Kingsland University, for example, supports women in tech by conducting pro bono seminars and courses for women, providing exposure to new leading-edge technologies such as software engineering, blockchain development and cybersecurity, and offering training scholarships specifically for women. More broadly, institutions like Kingsland that offer an Income Share Agreement (ISA) program, lessen the burden of tuition and make tech education more accessible to all marginalized groups.
Once recruited from such education programs, it’s crucial to establish systems in your workplace to retain female employees. What is the culture of your organization, and is it proactively creating a more inclusive culture? Do you have female engineers in place to serve as role models and foster younger employees’ careers? Do you offer key benefits, such as childcare leave? Expanding women’s role in tech cannot stop at the recruitment phase: we must create workplaces that support them throughout their careers.
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The conversation about women in tech is not new. But at what point does talking stop, and action start? It’s imperative for all of us to foster the accessibility of tech for women from a young age—beginning in grade school, through higher education, to mindful recruiting and into the workplace.
A leading organization that provides social impact through education and gives people accessibility by training them for the most in demand, highest paying jobs without the burden of paying tuition upfront.
Over the course of nearly a decade, Souza has set the world standard in emerging and disruptive technologies education space successfully delivering innovative education programs to some of the world’s most respected companies, universities, government agencies, and not-for-profits, amassing over 175,000 students worldwide.
Under his leadership, Kingsland has been shaped into an internationally-recognized higher education provider, secured its SACS-CASI accreditation and evolved the organization into an award-winning institution with accolades such as Startup of the Year 2018, Innovator of the Year 2018.
John Paul Souza is the founder and chief strategist of Social Media Magic, the industry’s most trusted social media training and management firm. Under his direction, the firm has seen explosive growth marked by a recent Mashable Awards nomination in the Best Social Media Service category, the launch and record expansion of Social Media Marketing University (SMMU), and the exponential increase in the number of clients and students. Since SMMU’s launch, thousands of business professionals from across the globe have participated in the program making it one of the largest and most diverse social media training programs in the world.
John is also an author and highly sought-after speaker, and was most recently voted Social Media Marketer of the Year by the Tech Marketing Awards. Over 75,000 rising and established business leaders have registered to participate in his weekly webinars. An innovator and thought leader, he continues to transform the way businesses think about and implement social media, and his efforts have caught the attention of high profile media outlets, including Forbes America’s Most Promising Companies campaign and The Michael Gerber Show, hosted by the author of “The E-Myth Revisited.”
John is a former finance industry executive who has held key roles at JP Morgan Chase and Bank America Capital Management Group. He is a graduate of New York University Stern School of Business and completed the MIT Entrepreneurship Development Program at MIT Sloan School of Management.
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