Tech-based companies are dealing with two related issues. First, many firms are struggling to find qualified engineers, and second, they are starting to pay attention to gender quotas in a variety of areas. These questions are linked because developing women’s skills and recruiting them to work in technology can help close the skill gap.
The skill gap problem will be worse in the next years according to reports and predictions. The Wall Street Journal estimates that 1 million tech jobs will go unfilled in the United States alone each year, while a Korn Ferry investigation points out that the world might have up to 85 million vacant tech jobs by 2030.
Therefore, companies are seeking alternatives to fill their vacancies in key engineering positions like data analytics, AI, and cybersecurity. Let’s explore why hiring and upskilling more women in tech roles not only can help to reduce time-to-hire, but also build up more diverse, innovative, and customer-focused teams.
The Challenges That Women Face in the Tech Industry
Female representation in technology continues to be marginal in comparison to men. However, a Deloitte report found that the proportion of women in this sector has increased from 22% to 25% between 2019 and 2022. Despite this uptrend, there is still a problem related to the short time women can remain in the tech industry.
According to Forbes, in the United States, a woman tends to leave her role in the tech industry at a 45% higher rate than a man, due to different causes such as prejudices and different standards compared to men. For example:
- Some behaviors that are considered positive for men are questioned in women, such as assertiveness, leading, and taking decisions.
- Women are often interrupted or less listened to during meetings.
- Women frequently must achieve higher standards of exigency, which makes it difficult for them to get promotions.
- The maternal bias assumes that once a woman has children, she will no longer want or be able to do her work.
In this context, it is critical to encourage more women to build a career in technology. Furthermore, creating a more inclusive space in companies can open doors to return for women who have left the industry. This would allow highly skilled workers to come back to the tech business.
Bringing more diversity to workplaces will not only allow to reduce the gender gap but also can represent a solution to talent shortage and create more productive teams.
Upskilling: a way to develop talent
Many companies are carrying out projects to train people in engineering roles, even if they occupy other positions and do not have specific technical knowledge. For example, the Toyota Financial Services Academy has a company-wide approach to upskilling through workshops and training. In this project, company leaders and experts are encouraged to share their expertise to encourage a learning-teaching culture.
In this sense, an interesting example is the Salesforce Trailhead platform, which aims to make its CRM more accessible to people working in administration, marketing, sales, and other areas. Because using the Salesforce CRM platform requires a certain level of training, Trailhead provides free lessons for teams simply and interactively.
Also, other actions are taken by companies, such as collaboration with educational institutions to foster interest in IT careers at a young age.
The problem with training and certification models is that they are lengthy processes that are incompatible with projects that require speed, without taking into consideration the costs involved for organizations.
The retention problem
Bringing women into the tech industry is not enough to solve the problem. One of the main obstacles has to do with the high percentages of women leaving the area. Many programs and initiatives have been developed to deal with the problem, but they are not always producing the desired results: in most businesses, the ratio of each gender is improving slowly.
Some of the reasons are:
- Getting promoted is more difficult for women than it is for men. According to reports, 20% of women over the age of 35 are still in junior positions.
- Women are often given the same role as men, but for a lower salary.
- Poor management. Women tend to feel they are managed differently because of their gender.
Do women want to work in technology?
According to studies, women show interest from an early age in careers and topics related to technology. The organization Girls Who Code reported that 74% of high school girls express an interest in technology subjects and careers. But only 0.4% of high school girls choose to pursue them in college.
The reason for such a low percentage choosing a career in technology is not a lack of interest. On the contrary, this is due to a lack of early exposure to STEM education, low confidence, and a lack of mentors who support girls.
So, why would women be able to fill the void in technology?
- Diversity increases revenue: Improving diversity in technology is linked to a 15% increase in company performance. This boost is related to the fact that diverse teams often facilitate innovation, which is critical for tech companies, start-ups, and industries. Working in an environment with different ideas and perspectives from many people from various cultures, ages, and genders fosters valuable interactions and results in better outcomes.
- Different ways of thinking: men and women tend to view things differently, and it is critical to consider these various perspectives when a company works bringing solutions to customers. Furthermore, we should not forget that both men and women buy these companies’ products, and having a diverse team facilitates a more efficient approach to customer needs.
How is the future for women in technology?
In the tech industry, two issues are intertwined: the shortage of talent and the difficulty for women to pursue long-term careers. To achieve this, it is critical to create work environments that value respect and diversity and help each team member to develop their skills.
Gender equality does not imply that every department in a tech-based company has an equal number of men and women. It is not just a question of ratios; it also implies that women in tech should be able to earn fair pay and have equal chances to grow in their careers.
Here are some of the subjects that tech companies should consider in order to face the skills gap problem and get more inclusive teams:
- Work environment and culture: It is important to create a work culture in which people like to work.
- Training and mentorship: Anyone is more likely to have a successful career in technology if she or he has the training, tools, and support needed to feel confident.
- Trust women for technical roles: It is necessary to change the patterns of most technical positions being filled by men and trust more in female talent.
- Encourage women to apply: Job applications must be in neutral language and avoid the use of gender-charged words. Also, it is appropriate to limit the use of superlatives and the number of requirements. If a woman does not meet a high percentage of the requirements, she is unlikely to apply.
Today, achieving success in your project or taking your company to the next level depends on finding the right talent. Diversity can help your company achieve better results and encourage employees to pursue longer-term careers in the company.
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