How to Increase the Numbers of Women in the Technology Industry
There are women in technology, but not nearly enough in positions of leadership. Read more about some ways to combat this possible bias.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Every now and then a new study offers up various statistics regarding particular industries, and with technology being so prevalent these days, some of the latest studies have of course focused on the technology industry and how it appears to be largely exclusive to men. This is of course a fallacy, as there are plenty of women involved in technology, but with media focus consistently portraying male executives and technology startup leaders with little to no women in sight, it can be easy to make the false assumption that technology is a man's world.
One particular aspect of concern that leads to this assumption is that nearly 50% of technology companies worldwide do not have females in top executive positions. Additionally, studies have also shown that the number of females electing to major in technology and computer sciences is decreasing as well. Is this because of a bias towards women in the field, or is it simply that women are choosing to focus on other endeavors and industries? Certainly, women are just as capable in the technology field, but if a bias does exist, it may serve as the determining factor that prevents women from reaching the same heights as men in the industry.
So how does a nation eliminate this possible bias and increase the numbers of women in the technology field, enabling them to attain more permanent leadership roles in some of the top tech companies? There may be several ways to achieve this goal, and it involves both women and men in the tech field.
1. Women Conference Speakers Need To Be More Present
At tech conferences and conventions, trade shows and other gatherings focused on the technology industry, there certainly is no shortage of guest speakers. However, how many of them are women. A quick glance at the list of women conference speakers reveals that many of them are involved in technology and computer sciences, so conference speakers in the tech industry can help to inspire others, as well as gain the why aren't they appearing more often? Again, it could be because of a possible bias, and if that is the case, then women conference speakers need to be more forthcoming and active, chipping away at the walls blocking their progress and making their stories and achievements known. By appearing at conferences and telling their stories, women respect of their peers and other colleagues. It is important for women conference speakers to be empowering, not negative, and motivational, not downtrodden, when telling their stories. Success is what the people want to hear, and will be the key factor in encouraging other women to push and strive to achieve their own goals in the tech field.
2. Companies And Those Who Manage Them Must Eradicate Bias
Male tech leaders need to take an active role in promoting fairness in all levels of a company, ensuring that women are not just treated equally, but that they also gain equal opportunity to excel and rise to new heights of management. Managers in charge of recruiting should focus on women as well as men, noting achievements and skill, not gender. Interview questions should not be geared one way for men and another for women; they should be the same for all potential candidates regardless of gender, a practice that Google recruiters utilize.
Leaders must also ensure that the work environment is not hostile or biased towards women to retain their employees rather than lose them due to a male-oriented culture perpetuated in the workplace. Teams working on projects should be blended and balanced, and leaders should take the time to hear suggestions from all as to how to make the workplace place more positive and gender-neutral.
3. Encouragement And Positive Reinforcement Go A Long Way
The above suggestions will take time and practice to implement, and not everyone might be on board with such ideas, as bias is a difficult creature to eradicate, especially in larger companies that are already male-dominated. However, leaders who show encouragement and positive reinforcement towards women employees who show promise and skill will help pave the way for change. By teaching women employees to focus on their skills and strengths, they will gain more notice as they achieve more results, and eventually it will serve to turn the heads of even the most biased managers. Overall, it is important for women to have confidence if they are to gain a foothold in the tech industry, and to never surrender to bias no matter how prevalent it may be. Confidence will always be a stronger animal, and leaders who work to instill confidence can help to keep it strong in their women employees and help them to further excel and gain leadership positions of their own.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.