There has been many times in my career where I have looked for the ‘get out’ clause whilst working in tech.

However it wasn’t the tasks of the job, more of the lack of support around them. In some cases sexism and disrespect. Comments thrown at me about my image, clothes that I wore and asking inappropriate questions about my personal life.

But, what I struggled with the most was the unachievable objectives and constant pressure to prove myself being the only female in the team.

No-one had prepared me for this.

Why was this happening?

Was I the only one?

And what could I do now to make change?

So, I did my research. I wanted to really understand the cause and effect of the hard truths that women tend to face pursuing their career in tech. And how we can start to change the face of women in tech leadership.

Now this article isn’t all doom and gloom, although you do need to know the facts.

This is an article, that despite, once upon a time a hiring male manager asked me if I had kids, was planning to have kids and is being in tech really for me…

I still succeeded and I am proud of being a woman in tech. Here is how we can all make change, to make the industry more desirable and retain our superstars.

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Now, let’s start with the stats

And goodness, they say it all.

3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice. *

5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women. *

50% of women leave their tech careers at the age of 35. **

“I left because the environment did not support me as a woman of color nor as a professional. I was intentionally left off of emails that were critical to doing my job, talked over in meetings, talked down to, and excluded from social events.”**

“The majority of women who stay in tech (73%) said they considered leaving their tech careers at some point because of limited opportunity for advancement (27%), unfair compensation compared with male peers (25%), and little support of management (22%), the report found.” ***

The more articles I read, the four common themes kept resurfacing.

  • Gender pay gap
  • Discrimination
  • Lack of opportunities
  • Tech jobs are not desirable.

To me it is clear.

The cause and effect are:

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Why?

Why is the cause happening? I sat and pondered what I wanted to write here. Do I do a 5 whys exercise? Or Do I just say it how it is?

I decided to say it how it is.

Misogyny. The outdated views of society and unachievable objectives we put on women and ourselves.

How do we prevent women leaving their careers in tech?

Early part of last year I wrote a LinkedIn article about the rise and fall of Women in Tech. Since then I have been thinking more about what prevented me from leaving and what would prevent others.

Here are my thoughts:

Create better cultures

This is the responsibility of all organisations and their people.

Companies need to create a culture where equality is at the heart of their value system. Which means creating internal groups like Women in Tech or Diversity in Tech, to give a fair platform for their staff.

This isn’t a tick box exercise. Ensure those groups have funding as well as the capacity to support.

Organisations can educate themselves on diversity topics by allowing their staff to:

  • Attend and have a presence at networking events.
  • Be involved in think tanks and hackathons.
  • Invest by bringing in expert companies and people to coach their staff.

With so many resources, there really is no excuse for ignorance.

Companies need to be transparent with regards to pay, use gender neutral language on job specs and use their social media platforms to market their own women in tech forums.

And Management… they need to become leader and support personal and professional development. Learning and development is key to empowering teams, growing an individual and the success to an organisation. By ensuring and securing budget for training and opening channels for staff to learn technical and industry skills – this will be the start of a journey for many to follow.

Servant Leadership

A servant leader focuses first on the growth and well-being of their employees, as a means of achieving success for customers, shareholders, and themselves. 

This is an employee centric model, that is in place across many tech-related firms.

Traditional leadersNext Gen servant leaders
Sets the destination through command and control, i.e., “Do this”Sets the direction through inspiring and empowering, i.e., “What could you try to do this?”
Managers are in charge of teamsManagers are in charge of removing barriers for teams
Delegates the daily work – acts as a team manager/coachDoes the daily work – acts as a team player
Sees employees as resources and headcountSees employees as people and thought partners
Measures success through outputMeasures success through value creation
Measures productivity by utilisation – people on the team have to be 100% allocated and utilised at all timesMeasures productivity by flow – people in teams have to go where the work and demand is to make sure we achieve pace with the model, they also set aside time to think

No more mythical training budgets

Seriously though.

I recently read that women working in non-technical IT roles are not given the opportunity to progress into technical roles. As a result, women are leaving both the company and IT all together!

So TRAIN YOUR FEMALE STAFF MEMBERS!

To conclude

The representation of women in tech roles has been increasing. Yet, there are still generations to come to continue to fight our Women in Tech battles before we see such a diverse change.

However, if start to think outside of our boxes and we work together, I believe we could start to change the face our IT departments. Our leadership role models. And, our world.

Resources:

*PWC Women in Tech Time to close the gender gap

**19 Women shared why they are quitting their tech jobs

*** Why more than half of women leave the tech industry?


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