At Kalgera, we take the view that our diversity will bring the skills and experience necessary for the whole team’s success: there’s a 50:50 split between the men and women on our team.
Although technology stereotypes are changing and encouraging more diversity, especially as millennials flow into the workplace, room remains for more women to join our quest to make tech work for good.
The hurdles facing women working in the UK technology today should not be underestimated.
Although government and industry are pushing to raise the number of women choosing to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), few are still represented in industry, especially at the higher levels.
According to WISE, a group campaigning for gender balance in STEM from the classroom to the boardroom, just 23% of core STEM occupations are undertaken by women.
However, the imbalance reaches further beyond increasing women in tech roles. Catalyst, a not-for-profit organisation working to build workplaces for women, also explored the reasons behind why leave rates peak a mere ten years into a woman’s tech career.
Although many challenges are revealed when exploring this problem, the number of women entering STEM industries is going up and women are breaking through the barriers that perhaps stopped them in the past.
In an interview about her own experiences within the workplace, Partnerships Advisor to Kalgera, Ivona Wolff, pinpoints the predominant problems facing women carving a career in tech today.
Ivona believes one of the biggest issues is the flow of talent from education into the workplace. She acknowledges that nothing is stopping women applying for technology roles, but perceived barriers are still evident including women who feel they do not belong in this sector.
Moreover, Ivona admits there is a problem with perceived accessibility into tech careers for women and they need to be more ‘opportunity savvy’, and ‘doing their due diligence’ if they want to have a successful career.
For example, she states that many people wrongly think that you need a degree in computer science to code when it can be self-taught.
Accessibility for women in tech is something that companies across the UK are focusing on. KPMG recently created a programme called IT’s Her Future that focuses on looking beyond traditional universities in recruitment drives to take more graduates from non-IT or non-STEM backgrounds.
As a result, the proportion of female graduates taking up technology roles at the firm has increased from 36% in 2015 to 54% in 2018.
However, women face still further challenges when they enter the industry. Even with an increase in the flow from education to workplace, changes need to be made to ensure women are retained in the tech sector.
There is, perhaps, a culture of flexibility that needs to be created that caters to a healthy work-life balance and includes malleable hours and remote working.
The 2018 Millennial Survey: Millennials disappointed in business, unprepared for Industry 4.0 by Deloitte found that being diverse and having high degrees of flexibility help to retain millennial workers, who are becoming increasingly less loyal to their careers.
Ivona suggests that technically up-skilling employees would be particularly helpful for women and provide direction in their career. Focusing on up-skilling and career direction may also improve the percentage of women on boards in STEM companies in the UK.
Lessons can also be learnt from women who have made it in tech. Recounting her experience in Silicon Valley in an interview with Forbes, CEO of the All Access Group, Kelli Richards suggests, in a similar way to Ivona, that being a woman need not hold you back or hamper your career in tech.
Kelli explains that women should capitalise on their unique, intrinsically female characteristics. She endorses creating the correct allies and says that having the right mentor is imperative to success in a career in tech.
Careers in technology are still dominated by men both in the UK and globally, but there is a lot of work going into changing this.
Young girls are being encouraged to understand that they are able to undertake STEM subjects as well as enjoy them, and the UK government is working closely with organisations and companies to tackle this problem.
However, the problems do not stop at the disparity in employment and adaptations to the culture of the tech world need to occur to enable this industry to become one that women will thrive in.
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