What’s that, a flying pig? A unicorn? No, it’s a woman in technology. Despite progress towards workplace equality, women in technology remain sadly diminished with only 15% working in STEM roles, and only 5% in leadership roles*. Moreover, this imbalance doesn’t appear to be decreasing any time soon as the future pipeline of technology talent is still heavily skewed towards men with only 17.2%** of females studying Computer Science. What is the problem you ask?
With technology continuing to develop and grow, with the help of AI, Fintech and Blockchain, so is the need for talent. With such a huge gender gap, these technology products and services are only being developed from the perspectives of only one half of the population, yet women make up half of the consumers. If the product or service is only tailored to one half of the market, companies are potentially missing out on fifty percent of possible customers. For example, early AI speech recognition struggled to recognise women’s voices because it was solely developed by men. Of course, this isn’t life or death as women can live without such luxuries. Or is it? When airbags were first put into cars, evidence shows that women and children were injured excessively in comparison to men. The reason being is that all tests on the airbags were carried out on male-sized dummies. If females had been involved, a wider market would have been considered, making new technology safer and equipped for the whole population, not just half.
I recently watched a TED talk about why gender equality is good for everyone and one thing, in particular, stood out to me and this was “that gender equality is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win”. The zero-sum game or zero-sum thinking is something I studied in my Psychology degree. It is a cognitive bias that describes when an individual thinks that one person’s gain would be another’s loss. When individuals think that a situation is “zero-sum”, they are more likely to act competitively or less cooperatively towards others, as they see others as a threat.
Now before I wrote this blog, I asked a close friend of mine (a female in technology) “what is it like being a woman in technology?” Her answer was: “I love working in technology however I would rather it feel like I am just doing a normal job rather than it being an insane thought that I am where I am today. I think it’s amazing that my company want to employ more women but unfortunately, some men resent these women for getting the jobs over them. When announced they were going to make an effort to recruit 50% males and 50% females this was met with grumbles and snide comments”. If that doesn’t scream zero-sum thinking, I don’t know what does, but this mentality needs to change.
Men becoming more sympathetic and understanding of gender diversity problems is essential to the future of technology. Not only is there a moral imperative to help achieve equality, but doing so will improve business, make the world a safer place and personally benefit men.
People need to realise that success in anything, including gender equality, is easier to make happen when:
1. you have good people at your side
2. a powerful network
3. and are just as concerned with helping others succeed as you are for yourself.
All three of these points are reasons to why I believe why Hurren & Hope have been so successful this year, as a company and as advocates for gender equality. I have an amazing team by my side that is always there to offer support and advice. I have a powerful network thank you to all my clients (who have all been amazing in helping empower women in tech), candidates and LinkedIn followers. Finally, we are all concerned with helping others succeed and I am so happy to say that so far, in 2019, 50% of the candidates that we have placed, from Data Scientist to Full-stack developers to QA testers HAVE BEEN WOMEN. So, to everyone in my network please continue to empower, and encourage diversity in the workplace and in the (similar) words of Beyoncé… who run the code? GIRLS.