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There's so much more to be done on gender diversity in tech: This is how we must play our part

Gender diversity in the workplace has been a strong area of contention for some time. While other industries have seen women taking great leaps, in the tech industry the issue is still far from resolved. In light of the growing tech skills shortage, Cindy Jaudon, Regional President, Americas, IFS, highlights the next necessary steps to increase women's roles in the technology sector, from government education initiatives to workplace training and more flexible job roles, there is so much more that can be done.

Despite efforts to promote women in the technology industry, the serious lack of female representation continues. Currently, women only account for a quarter of those employed in the tech industry. The underrepresentation of women is especially present in technology development, here the percentage of female U.S. computer scientists has actually decreased from 37% in 1995 to just 24% today. And with data from AnitaB.org showing that it could take up to 12 years before women see equal representation in tech, the need for action is clear.

Moreover, there is now an even greater urgency to address the long-standing issue of gender diversity. Due to the rising desire for more tech-driven business systems, the increasing demand for IT specialists will soon outstrip supply. In the U.S. alone demand for computing job roles has increased by 338% since 1990 compared with a 34% increase for total jobs. Women are needed more than ever in the technology sector to make up for the growing labor and skills shortage.

Finding solutions: Everybody has something to add

To address these issues, there is a need for a universal workforce strategy. Society, including governments and businesses, must play their part. Each participant is uniquely positioned to enact change in the different areas that impact women in the tech industry, from education to recruitment practices. There is more to be done across all areas.

Government action in education: Building from the bottom-up...

The root of the problem begins with education. Research shows that those working in STEM occupations are twice as likely to have a bachelor's degree or higher-with almost 75% of those having attained a STEM related degree, meaning that education has a direct impact on entry into STEM professions. Take for instance the study of computer science, where only 19% of those majoring in the U.S. are women. From the perpetuation of stereotypes about the subjects that female students study right through to a lack of positive encouragement from teachers to help these students pursue STEM subjects, there are many factors affecting girls' career paths to STEM that can be addressed through government action.

Governments can support schools to encourage girls to develop an interest and enthusiasm in technology through the education and resources they provide from a young age. Schools should introduce technology education to children at a younger age to develop their interests free from societal bias. Governments should also encourage schools to do more to break down the negative stereotypes that currently characterize technology subjects as more relevant to males.

...and solutions for the short-term

While education is fundamental to encourage younger girls in tech related subjects to pursue careers in STEM, the effects of these initiatives take time to come to fruition, however, the skills shortage in tech is present now. Here governments should also enact short-term solutions in the form of incentives for tech firms to retrain women with the necessary skillsets from other industries into technology roles.

Hire, Retain, and Promote: How businesses can champion female employees

While governments have broad powers, individual businesses can have just as much influence to facilitate change, especially as they are positioned to directly impact individual lives and experiences. Tech firms must also do their part to tackle workplace factors that negatively impact women in the tech industry, from attracting new talent to retaining and promoting experienced female expertise.

For too long, a lack of transparency and flexibility in job roles has discouraged many women from applying and has made it difficult for them to stay in the industry in the long run. This is seen in half of women employed in the tech industry leaving by the age of 35.

Therefore, businesses need to ensure that the parameters of job roles are fully communicated so that women have a complete understanding of working conditions, including maternity policies and the company's approach to hybrid working. Businesses should also move away from rigid 40-hour, five-day work weeks and consider roles for those working part-time or a condensed working week so as not to drive away skilled female professionals. Too many talented women today are lost to the technology industry if they decide to start a family.

Management to support and promote female visibility

A lack of visible female role models is another significant disincentive for women entering the technology industry, as a study by Accenture and Girls who Code found that the lack of mentors and female role models in the field are the two primary obstacles for women in STEM. Across the sector, too few women make their way into managerial positions, with women accounting for only 18% of industry CIOs and CTOs. Furthering the absence of female industry leaders in a vicious cycle of under representation.

Businesses should provide adequate diversity training for managers in goal setting, performance management, and annual reviews to ensure gender diversity is considered throughout and to cultivate inclusive working environments that support the talents of all employees. This is instrumental in offering more equal opportunities for promotions. Additional support for women in their career progression will encourage more female senior management and create more visible female role models to encourage other women and girls to follow in their footsteps.

Women need to do their part too - mentoring the next generation

But let it not be forgotten, women in the sector also have a key role to play in the promotion of female technology professionals. Mentoring, whether formal or informal, is a vital part of encouraging and supporting women in the pursuit of tech careers or in their career progression. Mentoring is valuable regardless of gender, but the unique experience and wisdom of female industry leaders is invaluable for women working in a male-dominated field.

It's a team effort from governments, educational institutions, businesses, and society at large

The end goal of gender diversity is difficult to achieve and cannot be attained through a single method or actor. Different components within society must come together to address the various factors that obstruct women in the technology industry. It is a continuous process and there is always more than can be done, so we mustn't give up.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cindy Jaudon, Regional President, Americas, IFS

Cindy-Jaudon 

As regional president for the Americas, and a member of the IFS Senior Leadership Team, Cindy Jaudon is responsible for growing the IFS footprint in the world's largest and most demanding markets.

During her tenure, Cindy has been instrumental in four key IFS acquisitions: WorkWave, a leading provider for the Field Service and Last Mile Delivery in the SMB market; Mxi, a leading provider of maintenance management software for the global aviation industry; Metrix LLC, a best of breed service management supplier and LatinIFS, an IFS reseller in South America. She has also led the IFS Americas team to steady organic growth and achieved unprecedented satisfaction and retention levels in the North American customer base.

Prior to assuming the role of president and CEO, Cindy was the global industry director for IFS's Industrial Manufacturing and Aerospace and Defense solutions, where she helped IFS assume a dominant position in both sectors. Cindy has more than 25 years of consulting, sales and management experience in the enterprise software market.

In recent years, IFS's North America business has been recognized as a Top 50 Best Companies to Watch by The Silicon Review with Cindy at the helm. Cindy has also been named a two-category finalist in the StevieĀ® Awards for Women in Business: Female Executive of the Year - Business Products - Less Than 2,500 Employees and Woman of the Year - Technology.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cindy-jaudon-042667/

Published Thursday, March 24, 2022 7:42 AM by David Marshall
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