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Why do we need to keep pushing for more women in tech?

Why do we need to keep pushing for more women in tech?

As we commemorate International Women’s Day and recognise the critical role women play in the workplace, I am pleased by the indicators that the gender gap in technology is beginning to narrow.

Indeed, we can observe some big developments in the UK, which is essentially indicative of many developed markets. Over 150,000 women have been recruited into IT professions in the last three years, according to data provided by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) in February. That’s a 44 per cent rise during the same time span, more than double the growth among males (19 per cent). More than half a million women now work in the industry.

It was also encouraging to discover that, according to the FTSE Women Leaders Review, nearly 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are currently occupied by women. Last year, 414 women served on FTSE 100 boards, up from 374 in 2020. In countries all around the world, there is a similar image of increased female representation at the top table.

Effect of a Pandemic

Substantive change, on the other hand, will not occur overnight. Even if the direction of movement we’re witnessing is positive, it’ll be a long process. The distant and now hybrid working models that have emerged as a result of the epidemic have played a significant role in this.

During the Covid-19 epidemic, many individuals had to work remotely for two years. Those who have parenting and care obligations – which are typically held by women – have been better able to manage work and life.

Working remotely is no longer associated with lower productivity; on the contrary, productivity has increased. People are working longer – albeit at different times of day or night – and more efficiently as a result of reduced travel time and greater flexibility in how they organise their working day.

We must guarantee that this trend continues — and that we do not witness a creeping return to old habits as time passes. Many businesses, like Harvey Nash Group, use a hybrid work style in which employees spend two days a week in the office. Hybrid working allows employees to work productively from home while still allowing time for face-to-face meetings and conversations that aren’t possible with Teams or Zoom. For example, I don’t believe anything beats in-person meetings for generating spontaneous ideas.

There is no going back.

However, the tempting rhetoric of returning back to past ways that I’ve been hearing on many places has me concerned. Humans have a propensity to revert to what we know best over time, and I believe that as an industry, we must be cautious not to lose sight of the lessons learned over the last few years and allow things to return to their previous state.

We must continue to support flexible work schedules that allow more individuals to enter the sector, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, background, or other qualities. Talented individuals, no matter who they are, must have access to technology. This holds true regardless of one’s age or station in life. More options for people in their later professions, such as returning moms, to retrain and reskill themselves in technology are needed.

The government of the United Kingdom has announced a digital Bootcamp project that will provide intense training in digital skills. Other countries have comparable plans in place. We’d want to see programmes like these become even more widely available and geared at individuals of all ages. We must do everything possible to alleviate the skills shortages that have plagued technology for so long.

With so many women being displaced at the moment – from Afghanistan last year and now, regrettably, from Ukraine – there is an additional chance to assist those with the proper characteristics who settle in new countries to be trained in tech professions and contribute to the economy.

Embracing diversity

Supporting gender (and other) diversity in the workplace has several dimensions for organisations. Employers should challenge themselves to guarantee that new employees at the graduate and apprentice levels, as well as experienced hires, later on, are taking a balanced approach that actually encourages diversity.

Mentoring and networks can assist women who are currently working in IT advance their careers. It’s critical that mentors have sufficient training; simply having good intentions isn’t enough. Male allyship is also critical; when prominent men truly support the gender equity agenda, it can be extremely effective and convey a powerful message.

Our data show that women enjoy their IT professions just as much as men do and that they can advance to fantastic positions. It’s a message that needs to be heard louder. I couldn’t think of a better job where you can make a difference in the world, perform meaningful work, and get decent money.

No one should think, “Tech is not for me,” at a day when technology is all around us and a vital part of our daily life. It benefits everyone, and women play an equal role.

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