The repercussions of dwindling numbers of females present in tech are far fetching. By increasing the number of woman in tech, we could improve our economy, create a more harmonious society and have a greater range of digital products.
Unfortunately, all this glory lies beyond our finger tips, because women are just not choosing tech careers. Findings from various studies have revealed a bleak picture.
In the last decade there has been no change in the percentage of woman occupying tech positions (Gartner study on CIOs)
Women are leaving the tech industry at twice the rate of men (Anita Borg Institute Study on Climbing the Technical Ladder)
And we continue to see girls steer away from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects (Tes Connect STEM – Minority report)
But why is this important? Well, there are 3 good reasons we should all care.
1. We could better our economy
If you’re not already aware (and you should be, because it affects all of us working in digital), we have a severe shortage of developers. This leaves employers scrambling over a small pool of talent, blocking potential growth for 1000s of companies. The answer seems simple. You increase the number of woman entering into tech and voilà! Suddenly we have more developers for a demand which only continues to grow.
2. We could improve equality
Unfortunately we cannot ignore the elephant in the room. Tech has a reputation for being a sexist industry. And even in the many gender friendly workplaces around, it is known to be unconducive to a work-life balance. Techies, especially start-ups, work long hours, which leaves women having to choose between a career and a family. However, by increasing gender balance within businesses and departments you can reduce inappropriate or ‘sexist’ behaviours. Additionally, by increasing the number of women within a team you can decrease the pressure to conform to harmful industry norms, such as working 14 hour days (by the way, working long hours does not necessarily increase productivity). And there we have it – the beginnings of world peace!
3. Let’s talk gadgets
Lastly, we come to the matter of missed opportunities. Diversity within a group helps stir the creative juices. Teams that have a variety of perspectives tend to envision better products that more aptly cater to the needs of the user. As it stands we have most of our digital whims taken care of by middle class, western men who may not quite grasp what we really need. The solution? Adding a pinch of diversity to the batter.
I don’t think many could argue against the benefits of increasing female representation within tech. However, the next step is to concentrate on moving the conversation towards finding a solution. Although the media has latched on to this ‘sexy’ topic, very little is actually being done to drive change. When we start tackling the issue of how rather than why, we may start to see some of these brilliant benefits. Oh the gadgets we will have!