New Study Shows Gender Bias Remains An Issue For Tech Firms Around The World

As International Women’s Day imagines a gender equal world, research shows the tech industry is still lagging far behind when it comes to being a truly diverse place to live and work. And while the 8th of March should be an annual opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and progress that has been made, it’s also important to realize that we’re also still on a journey toward gender equality.

To shed light on some of the inequality that still exists across different tech ecosystems, cloud talent firm Revolent has collaborated with a photographer to highlight some of the statistics that exist around the number of women in tech through a series of images (seen below).

Revolent believes there is still a way to go to find true gender balance in the tech industry. They discovered that only 19.2% of CIOs in Fortune 500 companies identify as female, as well as many other alarming statistics from those working across a number of tech communities. For example, one survey of Salesforce professionals revealed that 73%–that’s just under three quarters—of women believe that gender inequality exists in the industry.

With a digital skills gap that is on the brink of becoming a crisis, it makes for uncomfortable reading when research has also shown that championing diversity and inclusion could help retain 1.4 million women in tech by 2030.

“It’s incredible to see the power that our individual actions can have as a collective,” said Nabila Salem, President at Revolent.

“But, despite all the amazing strides that have and continue to be made, there is clearly a long way to go. And while organizations need to pull their socks up and take action in order to shift the dial in the right direction, it’s clear that every single person in the tech community has a part to play in helping the industry to level up.”

The company has urged people to get involved with their #BreakTheBias campaign that will run alongside International Women’s Day, to show the importance of individuals also highlighting that they are behind the message, which has full backing from a range of figures within the tech industry including Salesforce Hall of Fame MVP Eric Dreshfield.

He said: “Those of us who are not directly victimized by this have a responsibility to support those who are, by showing up, speaking up, and taking action to help right the wrongs as well as providing educational opportunities to all in order to lessen future occurrences. For so long, society (in general) has had ‘norms’ for what men and women can and can’t do. Simply put, we are all humans, and as humankind has proven over and over again, we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. It’s time for the culture of gender-specific roles to go away. Men, women, transgender, non-binary…we are all human and deserve the same access to live, love and work how and where we want.”

He also added that there’s a need to continue drawing attention to the problem through data, as without a vast, robust and continual statistical analysis it’s impossible to understand how big the issue actually is.

So what do we do once we know the true scale of the battle ahead of us?

On the subject of leadership, it goes without saying that the problem starts with levelling up the number of women in tech. Without that, and the continued support networks that allow them to forge lasting careers, there simply won’t be enough women that remain long enough to reach senior leadership positions. There’s far needs to be done to support them on that journey of course and while it’s also very much a chicken and egg situation, the more visible role models there are in boardrooms around the world, the more women will see tech as a viable long-term career option that enables them to flourish and progress.

Although that may be a long-term shift, the good news is that there are a number of changes that can be made immediately in order to attract a more gender diverse workforce. “There are a wide variety of roles within tech which aren’t pure developer based that require a range of skills,” added Salesforce MVP Amanda Beard-Neilson.

“When promoting the tech industry, be more open to using imagery that reflects these different roles than the stereotyped person sat in front of a black screen coding. Some people may not be attracted to that type of job and may not be aware of other roles where their skills may better fit.”

She also added that she’s made it her goal this year to speak out in uncomfortable situations like that.

And while the primary motivation should always be that it’s fundamentally the right thing to do, both Eric and Amanda pointed towards the benefits for any organization that’s truly committed to leveling the playing field.

“Studies have shown that diverse groups of people working together can produce more robust solutions as each team member can provide a different viewpoint to a problem,” concluded Amanda. “Promoting a culture where people can be their authentic selves, encourages mindsets to work freely and openly challenge opinions without fear of reprisals.”

Eric agreed, adding that although the result would be humans feeling empowered to be their true and authentic selves, “a more diverse workforce has a more diverse way of thinking, which translates into higher profits.” In short, those changes to the way we support, nurture and champion female talent will have a wide-reaching effect.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, it’s also important to challenge the status quo by asking questions such as: Where are the women in tech? What am I doing to champion the females in my organization? Will I speak up? What can I do to break the bias?

Further information on the campaign including a full breakdown of the statistics and accompanying images, as well as more insight and actionable advice from tech thought leaders, are available from Revolent’s website.

[This article was originally published by Revolent and republished here with permission.]

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