Grow with Tech: Women in new technologies – why there are so little and what we should do about it
Technologies are changing our world. Usually their aim is to make our lives more convenient and help us be more productive. It is often said that technology is a man's world but there are many publications and projects which promote equality, especially in tech companies.
Technologies are changing our world. Usually their aim is to make our lives more convenient and help us be more productive. It is often said that technology is a man's world but there are many publications and projects which promote equality, especially in tech companies. On the other hand, there are many organisations that gather together women to share their knowledge and experience, but very few dedicated to men. Why is this? Why has gender diversity become such an important topic in recent years?
There is a growing belief that organisations who have a diverse workforce, and who strive for an equitable gender balance, are more successful. This is often reflected in the wide range of benefits that come from such an approach. These include understanding and engaging customers more fully to better team organisation thanks to developing those areas where women show greater strength such as emotional intelligence and empathy.
The question is why are there still so few women working in technology? It seems the problems begin at high school, which according to PwC research are not providing enough guidance about careers in technology. Only 19 percent of students received this type of information during their studies. Other research shows that only 16% of women, as opposed to 33% of men, have had technology suggested to them as a career. Only 27% of female students say they would consider a career in technology compared to 61% of males and just 3% of female say it’s their first choice. A particularly interesting statistic is that 31% of males developed an interest through their own research in contrast to only 12% of females.
It is this group of women, this one-tenth, that we are talking about today. Last year at Come Creations Group we asked 55 women from various companies that deal with new technologies how their career started and why they decided to work there.
Our research shows that 63% of these women had not finished the engineering. When asked what they like about the tech industry - half responded that they enjoy the dynamic and constantly changing situation. Lots of new projects, solutions and approaches make the tech world particularly interesting to them. 35% say they love the challenges they face and the chances for permanent growth. For one third, the opportunity to work in IT is a key factor.
We also asked them what types of challenges they face working in technology. 27% wrote that it's running a company and being up-to-date with new solutions. This clearly shows that those things which women like about the IT world are, conversely, also their biggest challenges. Only 4% responded that stereotyping and the under- representation of women are a problem.
What is truly lacking and what we should work towards is a greater number of female role models in technology. In particular, young women need to understand how technology can enable women to change the world. 40% of students say that an important factor which helps them choose certain career is the desire to make the world a better place. This figure rises to 50 % when we consider only females and falls to 31% in the case of males.
Additionally, the University of Northern Dame and Northwestern University published a report recently titled „A network’s gender composition and communication pattern predict women’s leadership success” where they present the notion that women who communicate regularly with a female-dominated inner circle are more likely to attain high-ranking leadership positions. Such groups can share trustworthy gender-relevant information about jobs and provide support.
Women that have such networks usually achieve 2,5 times greater job placement than those without. This research shows why groups that support other females are so important. Considering this together with PwC research which states that 78% of UK students can’t name a famous female working in tech, we clearly see that there is a lot to be done in this field. Over a quarter of female students say they’ve been put off a career in technology as it’s too male-dominated.
The way women are seen in IT needs to change. We should promote women’s successes and how they achieved them. Young female students should be educated about the doubts and challenges they face, have a place where they can ask questions and be supported, and find personal mentors who will help them grow and achieve their full potential.
Anita Kijanka - Owner of Come Creations Group – communication hub that specializes in new technologies. Initiated the “Strong Women in IT” report.
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