Tech industry needs to make a lot of room for gender equality
While India has seen women in leadership positions in politics and industries like finance, the tech sector can’t say the same. As software increasingly becomes pervasive in our lives, it’s important more than ever for builders to be representative of the people being impacted. Women are equal users of technology and yet they do not equally participate in its development.
For example, more women are seen at entry-level jobs than at senior roles than their male counterparts and also make less than them. In fact, Only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women. More than 70% of starts-ups have no women on their Board of Directors. Even women tech entrepreneurs receive 50% less VC funding.
There are many reasons for this state of affairs. They could range from women taking a break from their career owing to family, marriage or other personal commitments. However, increasingly we are seeing more women dropping out of the tech workforce due to fewer/or lack of opportunities. A World Economic Forum research estimates that 57% of the jobs set to be displaced by technology between now and 2026 belong to women.
Plus, there are also the inherent societal biases and influences that stop women from pursuing a STEM career, which in turn affects any tech company’s ability to build a good pipeline of women leaders. The lack of women in senior positions results in the lack of role models for women to look up to. A recent Harvard Business Review study proved that women have to fight the implicit bias at the workplace, which stopped them from being given promotions. Earlier research has shown that while men are perceived to be more responsible when they have children, women are seen as being less committed to work.
So, what can be done? Joseph Devasia, Managing Director of Antal International, says, “With women taking more of the burden at home and juggling demanding careers, it is important for organisations to have flexibility that allows women to continue working. There is a myth that lesser number of hours worked would result in lower productivity. However, those who work flexi-hours actually are more efficient in those fewer hours. Companies have to look at this new way of engaging women colleagues, if they need the talent necessary to grow.”
Tech companies, especially organizations with a strong following, a wide reach and high-profile leadership, need to do a lot more to fix the skewed gender ratio. They need to normalise the idea of women in tech. For that, there needs to be a multi-pronged approach to the problem. Just attracting more women to write code won’t help. Companies need to approach gender inequality as they would any other business problem: Use hard data and stop depending on anecdotal surveys. Only then they can move from debating the causes of gender inequality and move towards finding a lasting solution.