Last week, Cyara joined with many organizations worldwide to help raise awareness on International Women's Day, with reflections by our President James Isaacs and CMO Linda Chen, along with a wide range of statements and support from Cyarans on social media. Recently, the President and CEO of Cyara customer Healthfirst, Pat Wang, was recognized as one of the top 25 women leaders in 2021 (Congratulations, Pat!).
Opportunities for recognition like this serve an important purpose as we continue to look for and strive to increase diversity and representation in our communities and workplaces. So why is the tech industry still on a loading page when it comes to having more women in tech — especially in management positions?
More and more, companies are committing to diversity; in fact, 87% of GenZs find this commitment a must-have when deciding on a workplace. But the tech industry is still lagging behind. Only 26% of computing-related jobs are occupied by women with only a 1% increase in the last 5 years. Within this already incredibly small margin, only 11% of these jobs are occupied by women of color.
The Glass Ceiling is Not the Only Barrier Women Face
In addition to the well-known glass ceiling, many women face a phenomenon dubbed the "broken rung,” in which women find themselves unable to advance past the job level at which they were hired. Because of this failure to present opportunities for advancement or a clear career path, many tech companies continue to funnel through the same demographic they already have, instead of hiring more diverse groups. When a company does hire women, 50% report they have faced gender discrimination in their workplace. When a company is committed to a diverse employee makeup, gender discrimination typically drops by 6%.
This small percentage can make a huge difference in the way women interact in the workplace. 78% of women in the tech industry report that they feel an expectation to work harder than their male colleagues. This may be because women feel that they need to prove their worth at their company simply because of gender. When gender discrimination goes down, so does the pressure to put one's health and wellbeing on the line in order to prove their worth.
Where is the Representation?
In a male-dominated workforce, as is often the case in tech companies, 43% of workers ignore gender diversity. This leads to tone deafness and further discrimination, including a general sense that "that's just the way we do things." Either as a consequence or a response to this type of attitude, women tend to be outnumbered in tech positions, with 72% stating they are in a 2:1 ratio with the men in their workplace.
Unfortunately, women have also grown accustomed to a lack of representation in these roles. The absence of women in leadership at an organization can encourage things like “bro culture” or other demeaning attitudes towards coworkers. 72% of women have reported experiencing this type of cultural bias at their place of employment, resulting in an uncomfortable work environment and even sexual harrassment. This is an alarmingly high rate. A better balance of gender representation is important to help combat toxic attitudes and exclusionary practices, which may be driving the fact that 43% of Americans believe that women make the workplace feel safer. This applies to feelings of safety experienced by both men and women.
Action Items to Help Repair Disparities
Gender discrimination is subtle, insidious, and unfortunately will not go away on its own. Awareness is an excellent step in the right direction. But what else can businesses do to help elevate talented women and benefit from the range of unique skillsets they bring to the table? Here are just a few ideas:
- Develop an education or internship program that not only encourages work in the tech industry but prioritizes viewing women as equal colleagues and bosses.
- Ensure all hiring managers are equipped with unconscious bias training to prevent the continuation of sexist “culture fit” standards.
- Hire candidates based on their potential in the job, in favor of their current competencies. Women who are caught on a broken rung are less likely to acquire the same range of experience as men with similar abilities. Hiring for traits that are beneficial for future experience instead of past experience can enable more women to add valuable contributions to the company.
- Make it a priority to have women in leadership, and put women in positions where they are able to work their way up to executive levels.
- Continue to encourage women of all ages to challenge the status quo.
We are more than capable of not only ensuring women have equal opportunities in the workforce but ensuring that they feel valued and appreciated for who they are and the skills they bring. Tech companies in particular will benefit from adding more female voices to conversations around innovation and development, adding value not just to society but to the business' bottom line.
Representation isn’t only wanted — it's needed!