When you mention ‘coding’ most people think ‘male’. However, not only does the technology world encompass far more than coding, but there are talented women in every aspect – just not as many as their male counterparts.
According to a report by the National Centre for Women & Information Technology, women make up only 25% of the workforce in the tech industry. At executive level the gap becomes a chasm, with women in only 11% of leadership positions.
Atomico’s State of European Tech report exposed the unpalatable truth that the proportion of funding raised by women-only teams has dropped from 3% to 1% since 2018, and the funding that is awarded is far less than male-led teams.
Change needs to take place – and soon. These are the three major issues that will make a significant difference.
1. Change grass roots attitudes
Social perception needs to change first. Girls are not actively encouraged into technical learning. This may seem very ‘last century’, but there are still plenty of examples of female students not exactly being discouraged, but being guided in a different direction.
Currently, there is a lack of support and women still need to work harder than men to prove themselves. Founderland’s Rise & Thrive Report found that in Germany, workplace discrimination is increasing by 10-15% annually, but the pandemic saw this rise to almost 79%. This is scandalous in the 21st Century when gender should be less and less of an issue.
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An active campaign of positive encouragement across the educational system will release a flood of potential talent into the technology industry.
2. Shine a spotlight on successful women in technology
Although many people are aware of top women tech leaders, such as Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, who is the first woman to lead a major tech company, there are many other women who are leading technology enterprises successfully and many more who have achieved success in a technology career.
Women have made significant contributions to the tech industry throughout its history. From Ada Lovelace, who is the world’s first computer programmer, to Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler, women have been instrumental in shaping the tech industry as we know it today.
Kathryn Parsons founded Decoded in 2011 with a credit card and a mission to teach anyone how to code – in just one day. Her view is that it’s just another language that anyone can learn and her campaign to make coding mandatory within the UK National Curriculum was successful, as it was introduced in 2014.
Successful tech women should not be an anomaly, but an aspiration. The more successful women in technology whose stories are shared, the higher the awareness there will be that technology is an exciting career path for women.
3. Build better mentoring programmes
Successful women in technology are role models for aspiring women who are pursuing careers in technology. We need more women in technology who are willing to step up and mentor potential leaders. However, mentoring does not have to be confined to successful tech women. Any tech leaders, men or women, who are willing to help to nurture women will help to level the playing field.
A lack of representation can make it difficult for women to find the role models and mentors they need to flourish.
If professional associations back ongoing mentoring programmes to support women into technology, the benefits will be felt by everyone. Women who have the opportunity to take on leadership positions in the tech industry will encourage more women like them into the tech world.
There has been progress, but there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality within the Tech industry. Education must start in schools to establish that technology is not gender-specific. Highlighting the successes that women have achieved will help to create a more inclusive and equitable industry where all individuals can succeed.
Inspiring successful women in technology to provide support for the next generation will pave the way for more influential and impactful women to share their talent.
Shalini Khemka, CBE, is the founder of E2E, an organisation that supports entrepreneurs, investment and mentoring. E2E has also launched the E2E 100 tracks to celebrate the leading 100 companies in six areas of industry. www.e2exchange.com