According to studies, only 19% of the technology workforce are women. Delving into this further, only 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women.
These statistics come as little surprise when we learn that while in education, girls are far less likely to have a career in technology suggested to them than boys. And with far fewer female role models in the technology industry, it’s clear to see that gender equality in technology begins long before women enter the workplace.
But what can we, as an industry, do to improve the landscape for future generations? We spoke to eve Networks Managing Director, Steve Barclay and Kyla Hunt, Operations Manager, to hear their experiences in the industry, how it’s changed and what more can be done to help shift the industry forwards towards equality.
In your experience, do you think that gender equality in technology has improved?
Kyla “If I’m being completely honest, not hugely. As a woman who has been in the industry for 20 years, it can sometimes feel as though the sector has become stuck in a male dominated world.
I don’t think it’s from lack of trying but more because it has been that way for so long that it becomes much harder to change things. There have been some positive changes, but it still feels as though there is quite a hill to climb before we get there fully.”
Steve – “I’ve been in the industry for around 12 years now and it feels as though we are seeing progress. I know, in my experience I have started to see a shift in the number of women in key roles in our industry. But clearly, we have a long way to go before we reach equality across all roles in the industry.”
What impact do you feel the pandemic has had on gender equality in the technology industry?
Kyla – “The pandemic accelerated home working which I feel has been a huge step in the right direction in helping to level the playing field for women in the industry.
I think home working is a real strength that eve Networks has always had; it’s made me feel empowered, trusted, and valued. I know that regardless of where I am, I am supported by my team and trusted to get the job done.
Technology now allows us to work from anywhere at any time, meaning the traditional 9-5 in the office is not the only way to work, and it certainly isn’t suitable for everyone. I think going forward home working will make it fairer for women to not only secure a job in the industry, but also to remain in the sector and to advance.
Working from home has been a positive step for everyone with a family. The flexibility for either parent to be able to be at home and be present and more involved with family life than you might have been able to before is a huge step in the right direction. After all, equality isn’t about elevating women and bringing men down, it’s about ensuring everyone has equal opportunities.”
Steve – “The flexibility that home working brings has been a great step forward in supporting women, who even in this era are often the caregivers of the family; expected to juggle additional parental responsibilities alongside their career.
By giving everyone the freedom to work from home, we take away some of the obstacles that women are often left to face. Doing the school run or looking after a poorly child, when home working wasn’t an option these types of everyday situations could be a huge, unfair setback for women.
My hope is that we as an industry can really lead the way with making home working accessible for as many people as possible across all types of industries.”
Could changes be made to the recruitment process to make it fairer for women in the technology sector?
Kyla – “Absolutely. There are stats out there showing that women often don’t apply for roles because they lack confidence in their ability. Or, when they do go for these roles, they will often have lower pay expectations compared to men, again through lack of confidence and self-belief. Now this isn’t to say this is the case for every woman out there, but from my experience even if you start your career full of confidence, that can wain over time.
This becomes especially true if at some point you leave to start a family, it can feel as though taking this time out can set you back in your career. For a long time, it’s often been seen as a choice for women, you can either have a career or a family, but rarely both. I do think that we are starting to see this change but still more can be done to ensure that taking maternity leave isn’t at detriment to your career.”
Steve – “Ultimately, a hiring manager can only hire from the pool of applications in front of them. But as a business and an industry it is a cop out to let that be the case. In our own businesses, we must decide to actively appeal to a wider range of people.
In terms of recruitment, I think you have to ask to yourself ‘would my business benefit from a more diverse team?’ and the answer is almost always, a resounding yes. A team with different experiences, viewpoints, and ways of thinking are ultimately stronger. What’s more, is that by building a diverse team you’re building a team that reflects society and therefore your customers which has a huge benefit for business.
The biggest challenge, particularly I think in this sector, starts long before women begin their careers. As a business it’s about your culture and outwardly expressing your standpoint on equality and opportunity. Being more transparent and not stereotyping certain roles.
With that being said, I think we, as a society, have a role to play in this; change has to start with all of us. And although no one person can change the situation overnight, there are things we can all do to work towards equality.”
Coming back to the title of this blog post, do you believe the future is equal when it comes to gender?
Kyla – “I do think we’re slowly edging in the right direction. It would be great to see this accelerate so that the next generation of women in tech feel accepted and that their gender is no longer a factor.”
Steve – “I definitely hope so. Fundamentally I think you must start as a business by accepting that there is an imbalance, then it’s about becoming aware of aspects within your business that might be hindering change. Whether that’s reviewing internal policies, becoming aware of your own unconscious bias, or just simply speaking to people in your teams to understand wider issues that you may not have even considered.
There’s still some way to go, we can’t deny that. In our business we are striving to empower people to do the right thing and let them make decisions; if we can create that environment, it means everybody has the same chance.”