There’s no doubt that the tech industry has a reputation for being a boy’s club. Whether it be underrepresentation of women in the industry, pay gaps, fewer career advancement opportunities, or being held to different or double standards, it’s no secret that there are sexist practices within the tech industry. Addressing the gender gap in tech is not only the right thing to do, but it can have great impacts on your business’s success. Supporting women in your tech company is key to developing a more productive, innovative, and positive work environment.
It’s more important than ever to take a stand and support women in tech. We have a number of tips for companies and co-workers to learn how to better support women in the industry. These recommendations are for folks of all genders and we hope they can help businesses build more inclusive and successful workspaces.
Closing the Gender Gap in Tech
Although women account for 47% of the workforce in the United States, the largest technology companies - Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft - employ less than 36% women. And when it comes to leadership positions in these companies, that number drops to 30%. Finally, of tech-related roles in these companies, only 24% of positions are held by women.
We know that this isn’t because there’s a lack of talented women to hold these positions, but rather, there are barriers that limit women from being successful in the tech industry. Understanding these barriers and working to address biases is crucial in supporting women in tech. Of course it’s impossible to eliminate the gender gap in tech overnight, but there are concrete things we can all do in order to support women in tech.
Tips to build a more inclusive workplace
Acknowledge and understand bias
The first step to supporting women in tech is acknowledging that the gender gap in the industry is a problem. The second step is seeing how our unconscious biases lead to situations in which women’s work is undervalued or their contributions are not acknowledged. As these biases dominate tech, we see a gender gap that’s deeply ingrained in the industry.
Addressing biases can be done on an individual level or at a company wide level. Many companies have decided to implement workshops or training, undergo gender bias audits of company practices, and solicit employee feedback.
Unconscious bias training: Unconscious bias training is a type of training aimed to help individuals recognize and address their unconscious biases that may lead to discriminatory behavior in the workplace. Unconscious bias training is often used to promote diversity and inclusion and to prevent discrimination and bias in hiring, promotion, and other employment decisions.
Gender bias audit: A gender bias audit is a process of evaluating an organization's policies, practices, and culture to identify areas where gender bias may be present. The goal of a gender bias audit is to identify and address any unconscious or intentional gender bias within the organization and to ensure that women and men are treated fairly and equally.
2. Hire women for leadership positions
Having women in leadership positions is hugely beneficial to companies. It’s important to offer other women positive role models, which leads to more inclusive policies across the company, generally improves teamwork, and ultimately brings fresh ideas to the table. These are all positive aspects that greatly benefit the company.
A study by Peterson Institute for International Economics found that companies with at least 30% women in leadership roles were 15% more profitable than companies with no women in leadership roles. That said, it’s not only morally and socially important to work towards gender diversity and support women in tech, but there is evidence to suggest that promoting gender diversity within a company can lead to improved financial performance.
3. Use inclusive language
Using inclusive language in company communications is a simple way to make all employees feel included and supported in their workplace. Inclusive language avoids marginalizing or stereotyping particular groups --something that ultimately may benefit both men and women in your workplace.
Use gender-neutral language: Use gender-neutral language such as "they" instead of "he or she" and "humankind" instead of "mankind."
Use gender-neutral titles: Use gender-neutral titles such as "chair" or "chairperson" instead of "chairman" or "chairwoman."
Similarly, making sure that job positions advertised use gender inclusive language is greatly important. Using inclusive language sends a message to potential candidates that your company values diversity. Appcast found that job postings using gender-inclusive language receive 29% more applications. Accessing this wider pool of candidates from different backgrounds and experiences will ultimately benefit the company.
By using inclusive language, companies create a more collaborative and respectful workplace environment, reduce confusion for all workers, and prevent sending unintended or biased messages in company communications. When employees feel valued and included, it improves their morale and engagement. This leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction which benefits both employees and the company.
4. Acknowledge women’s achievements
We know that offering positive feedback and encouragement is beneficial to the motivation and self confidence of all employees. In order to build more positive working environments and successful businesses, acknowledging the achievements, no matter how big or small, is something that all workplaces need to deliberately take on.
In a male-dominated field, it’s even more important to highlight positive work done by women in tech. Doing so provides women with the recognition and visibility they deserve for their hard work and contributions to the industry. Acknowledging achievements can help to boost their confidence, increase their sense of belonging, and encourage women to continue pursuing their goals in the field.
5. See gender diversity as a strength
We know that gender diversity is crucial in the success of any organization. Equally, bridging the gender gap in tech can foster a more efficient, innovative, and positive work culture. Research suggests that companies with higher gender diversity tend to have above-average profitability. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability compared to companies in the bottom quartile.
6. Develop a support network of women in tech
It can become exhausting being one of few women in your place of work. Finding a supportive network in your office will help you overcome adversity in what is otherwise an often isolating boy’s club. Building this supportive network of women or other folks who understand your frustrations is important in helping you burn on and not out.
Create a support network: This network could be a group of women who you go to lunch with one day a week or it could be one friend who you have coffee breaks with to vent. The important part is that you’re in conversation with and feel supported by other women in your company.
Mentorship Program: Establish a mentorship program that pairs women in tech with experienced mentors who can provide guidance, support, and career advice.
Build beyond your company: There are more opportunities than ever to get involved in larger “Women in Tech” related organizations and networks. From conferences to professional development programs to networking events, there is no shortage of women taking part in these conversations. Attend a local “women in tech” meetup and connect with other women in the field.
Taking Action to Close the Gender Gap
Undoubtedly, the tech industry is widely recognized as a male-dominated field. Women who work in tech encounter various forms of discrimination, both explicit and implicit. Women find themselves being underrepresented, receiving lower pay, having fewer career opportunities, and being held to different or stricter standards while working in tech.
Of course, it’s hard to transform the industry overnight, but there are a number of ways we can immediately take action to support women in tech. We hope that our recommendations assist companies in taking concrete steps to make more inclusive and thriving work environments.