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Amidst the ongoing tech talent shortage, actively supporting and empowering women in the tech industry could not only boost diversity in your team but also help your company fill the gap for tech talent. On a regional level, bridging the gender gap could lead to a 3.2–5.5% increase in GDP by 2050, according to research from the European Institute for Gender Equality.
We all have to be more proactive in our hiring strategies. What's particularly concerning is that the fastest-growing tech fields, such as DevOps and Cloud, have the lowest proportion of women. Unfortunately, the root of the problem may extend deeper, as shown by the declining graduation rates of women in STEM disciplines during higher education.
Thankfully, there are things you can do today to help attract more qualified women tech workers and provide support for women already employed with your company.
In this article, our own European Tech Recruitment experts, as well as Marisol Menéndez, leader of WITH (previously known as Women In Tech Spain), share their views on why and how companies can support women in tech careers.
While the imbalance in the tech industry gender ratio needs to be addressed, it’s important to recognize other disparities that exist. In a male-dominated technology industry, women earn less than men and are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions.
Looking at gross hourly earnings across industries, women earn 12.7% less than men in the EU and 13.5% less than men in the Netherlands. For women to earn equal pay to men in the tech industry, it’s essential that they take up more leadership positions.
There’s no doubt that there’s a gender gap in the tech industry and a key contributing factor is the insufficient representation of female tech leaders.
In the EU, women only fill 8% of CEO positions, while in the Netherlands this number sits at 10%. EU companies also show an imbalance of genders on their board of directors, with only 31% of positions held by women. While this rises to 38% in the Netherlands, that’s still not enough. The situation doesn’t look any better when looking more specifically at the tech sector, with LinkedIn data suggesting an overwhelming 93% of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) in Europe are male.
Whichever way you look at it, the “glass ceiling” - the invisible barrier that prevents women from rising to leadership positions - and the “leaky pipeline” (which signifies the diminishing representation of women higher up the corporate hierarchy) exist.
Marisol Menéndez, leader of WITH (previously known as Women In Tech Spain), believes leadership changes could be vital to fighting gender inequality:
Even if a company has a good balance of male and female employees, there’s rarely balance in decision-making positions. The majority of women are at the base of the pyramid. To achieve gender equality in tech, we can start by getting more women into decision-making positions.
Teresa Spinola, Executive Director Contracting, Michael Page The Netherlands says:
In Europe, there are some encouraging signs for gender equality in tech.
LinkedIn data shows incremental increases in the percentage of European women in tech. While the current women in technology percentage is 28%, this marks an improvement from 23% two decades ago. Encouragingly, among individuals with 0-10 years of experience in IT roles, 32% are female, indicating slow but steady progress in narrowing the gender gap.
Another point of encouragement is that European companies are leading the push to implement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 5, which promotes gender equality. SDG 5 is the third most referenced SDG for Europe’s Fortune 500 companies, of which 63% have made a commitment to gender equality.
Diversity in tech is important for many reasons. According to Marisol Menéndez, “embracing diversity and having women in decision-making positions creates better results for a business — diversity enriches communities and makes for happier teams.” She continues, “It’s important to embrace diverse perspectives: similarity and uniformity create atrophies, but diversity enriches — that’s true for all of humanity and it’s true for business.”
McKinsey research provides compelling support for this call for diversity and inclusion in tech. When there is a higher representation of women in leadership positions, nearly 80% of men and women are satisfied with their company, while only 65% of employees are satisfied at less gender-diverse companies.
What’s more, companies with gender-diverse executive teams have a 25% higher chance of achieving above-average profitability, and management teams with at least 30% women outperform those with less than 10% women.
Gender biases persist in our society, manifesting in various ways, such as the perpetuation of stereotypes and science teachers favoring boys over girls when engaging in classroom discussions. Regrettably, these biases can be hard to recognize and frequently infiltrate recruitment processes.
Gender biases in the hiring process encompass a range of factors, including unconscious bias, gendered interview questions, biased job descriptions, and evaluation criteria. These biases can significantly impact the fairness and objectivity of the recruitment process.
Organizations can take various steps to combat gender bias in technology. These measures include providing diversity training to hiring managers, establishing standardized evaluation criteria, implementing blind resume reviews, conducting structured interviews, and actively reaching out to diverse candidate pools. Diversity initiatives and the adoption of hiring quotas can also contribute to creating a more level playing field.
Companies aiming to hire more women in tech can adopt different strategies during the recruitment process. Some approaches include:
Companies looking to leave nothing to chance may utilize the expertise of specialists. Michael Page’s global database contains top female talent in the tech industry. By providing your desired salary range and candidate expectations, we can identify and connect you with your ideal match.
Studies indicate that companies perceived to provide equal opportunities are three times more likely to retain their talent. Conversely, work environments that lack inclusivity can reduce the potential for attracting talent by up to 39%.
Currently, around 7% of women drop out of the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities at home, a figure significantly higher than the 0.5% of men facing the same situation. Additionally, 25% of women cite a lack of work-life balance as a primary reason for leaving a career in the tech industry.
Marisol Menéndez believes that the pursuit of gender balance and equality requires efforts both at home and in the workplace. Menéndez suggests that one way to promote this balance is by implementing more equitable paternity leave policies. By offering fathers equal opportunities for parental leave, companies can take significant strides toward achieving gender equality.
Menéndez is also keen to emphasize the importance of providing flexibility in setting work schedules, beyond simply reducing hours or increasing leave. This flexibility can play a vital role in advancing women in technology career prospects. Our latest ￼Talent Trends report shows that remote working and flexibility are not hygiene factors when it comes to hiring employees across all sectors.
How to Promote Women to Leadership Roles
One alternative approach for finding exceptional female candidates is to prioritize internal promotions. Research indicates over 80% of job role transitions involve moving to a different employer. However, by offering clear career pathways to women working within your organization, you can retain more female tech talent.
￼It’s worth noting that male candidates often apply for job openings even if they meet only 60% of the qualifications, while female candidates tend to apply only when they meet 100% of the requirements. This disparity, as highlighted by Harvard Business Review, is not necessarily due to women lacking confidence in their abilities. Instead, female candidates often perceive applying for a position where they don't fully meet the qualifications as a potential waste of their time and energy.
To ensure the advancement of top female talent, companies must provide both internal and external female candidates with clarity regarding promotion criteria and offer consistent feedback. Establishing transparent internal promotion policies and retention goals, as well as implementing cross-departmental mentorship programs, can further support the career progression of women within an organization.
How to Be an Ally to Women in Tech
Although the tech sector possesses distinct characteristics and challenges, the pursuit of improved gender representation in the workplace is a global concern that is interconnected with the societal changes we can strive to make.
Companies can actively position themselves as allies to women by adopting key strategies. First, offering flexibility, creating an inclusive work environment, and establishing clear frameworks for career progression demonstrates a commitment to supporting women in their professional journeys. Secondly, empowering more women to hold decision-making positions is crucial for driving the long-term changes necessary for gender equality.
Implementing comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices is also important. This involves incorporating robust assessment and measurement programs to track progress, fostering accountability at all levels of the organization, and seamlessly integrating DEI practices into the core operations and values of the business.
Michael Page possesses a diverse database comprising highly talented women in the tech field. Share your budget and specific requirements with us, and we’ll find the right candidate for every role.
WITH, previously known as Women in Tech Spain, is a thriving ecosystem comprising executive women who hold decision-making positions in the tech industry. Their primary objective is to raise awareness and generate opportunities that foster the increased representation of women in leadership roles within the tech sector.