The past year has seen significant improvements in companies’ diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. However, there’s still one industry that is severely lacking. The tech field is significantly behind on equity in the workforce– and the uphill battle is nowhere near over for women in data science, engineering, IT, and coding. But one organization is on a mission to change that.
Nowadays, every company is a tech company. But, businesses cannot afford to rule out half the population from e-commerce and marketing data to more traditional tech roles like software development. So, Women Impact Tech is starting a movement to change the way women are perceived in the tech industry.
Sadly, female managers at tech companies make 10% less on average than their male counterparts across major US cities. Women make up just 28.8% of the total tech workforce. Women of color only make up 4% of the computing workforce and almost no senior leadership roles. Plus, new research shows STEM fields are more likely to be given a “soft science” label if women lead participation in those disciplines– and “soft sciences” are often devalued and considered less rigorous and less worthy of federal funding.
And the pandemic only made it harder for women who could succeed in the field. Women in the tech industry were twice as likely to be furloughed or laid off as their male counterparts. Meanwhile, 54% of women say that the pandemic makes it harder for them to break into the tech industry.
Women Impact Tech is helping organizations with their DEI efforts and empowering women in tech to thrive in their careers. They are finding great female talent to give them tools and resources to support women working in tech fields. But, the organization’s president, Paula Ratliff, believes more needs to be done to have equality in tech truly.
Encourage Young Girls
“Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends need to provide exposure to technology for girls earlier and earlier,” said Ratliff. “This isn’t a gender problem but about ensuring we provide an opportunity for young girls to have passion around what technology can offer them to enhance their experiences in the world.”
Adjust Company Culture
“Companies need to create a ‘culture’ that values diversity and inclusion, then set goals, metrics, and accountability to measure their success in recruiting, retention, engagement, and advancement of diverse talent,” said Ratliff.
Focus On Work/Life Balance
“We must embrace remote work, flexible schedules, shared schedules, and contract work,” said Ratliff. “We lost more women overall in the pandemic due to the burden that women have with childcare responsibilities and lack of support for that responsibility with remote learning, education instability, as well as primary care challenges. Ensuring an environment that can flex with the demands of parenthood will ensure we continue to see women thrive in the workforce, especially in technology.”
Demand Equal Pay
“Support through equitable compensation, training, mentoring, and sponsorship,” said Ratliff. “HeForShe and other ally programs are a great way to move toward women in tech feel heard and valued in the workplace.”
Ultimately, Ratliff knows what good DEI programs can accomplish, why organizations need to have a diverse workforce, and the barriers women face in the workforce. However, she argues that just because a company has a good DEI statement doesn’t mean they follow through. Instead, it’s about building support systems – having an active and purposeful mission to elevate women and POC to retain talent and ultimately benefit the industry.