Women have long been undervalued and underrepresented in the workplace. It’s no secret, but it’s especially true in the IT industry. Women account for fewer than 40% of the worldwide workforce and only 25% of professional computer occupations in the United States alone.
In addition, according to a new analysis, 45 percent of questioned women in tech say males outnumber them at work by a 4-to-1 or larger ratio. We have over 70 years of combined experience working in technology (!) between us, and if you ask us to describe our adventures, we are likely to recollect both good and bad times.
For example, one of us vividly recalls an eighth-grade math instructor telling her that she was not good enough to study algebra. She chose to major in math as a serendipitous act of young disobedience before finding her first post-grad job as a programmer for a NASA contractor. This would pave the way for a successful, 50-year career in technology.
After a few decades, the other recalls feeling lonely and alone as the sole woman on her company’s executive team. Again, challenging the established norm, she utilized this as a springboard to create a platform dedicated to developing women in the workplace, assisting in the identification and recruitment of additional female leaders. What these stories show — and what the two of us agree on — is that, while many organizations and allies are working harder to help women advance in their careers and thrive in a male-dominated tech world, much of the responsibility for change and improvement falls squarely on our shoulders as women.
Women are resilient, and they are demonstrating a new perspective, enthusiasm, and commitment to regaining influence, power, and capital after being disproportionately being impacted by the epidemic. Whether you are a young woman pursuing a career in technology or a seasoned veteran, we all have a part to play in closing the gender gap and supporting one another. Here are a few things that have proven to be successful for us over time:
If you like country music, you have probably heard the chorus of “Same Boat,” which sings, “We’re all in the same boat, fishing in the same hole… “We may be fishing in the same hole — or, in the case of the previous two years, weathering the same storm — but we’re in quite different boats. Hiring women who have taken a professional sabbatical can help to supplement current talent pools, and these “returners” are frequently highly driven, educated, and competent for a wide range of positions.
Women, particularly those in technical sectors, continue to confront many of the employment problems that have traditionally persisted, according to Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech study. Lack of pay parity was cited as the most pressing issue by the majority of respondents, followed by work-life balance, opportunity, and training. According to research by Qualtrics and The Board list, 34 percent of males working remotely with children at home obtained a promotion during the epidemic, compared to 9 percent of women in the same circumstance, and 26 percent of men received a wage boost, compared to just 13 percent of women.
Yes, the gender gap that women confront has narrowed slightly in recent years, but this serves as a reminder that the path to equality is long and convoluted. In the midst of hardship, it is critical to be tenacious and not lose sight of your goals. Even if you were an ordinary student, you may soon find yourself at a conference where you discover you are one of the sharpest individuals in the room. When things do not go your way, learn from your errors and find a solution. This was true in the 1960s, and it is true today.