A Better Understanding of Women in Technology

Women in Technology

Women represent only 26 percent of the tech workforce in the United States, according to a report by CompTIA State of the Tech Workforce 2023. While the technology industry has demonstrated some effort toward promoting gender equality and elevating bias awareness in the workplace, women still make up only a slight percentage of the technology sector. According to Deloitte Global research, on average, large global technology firms showed 33 percent female representation in their workforces in 2022, an increase of only two percentage points from 2019. Deloitte Insights states that women hold less than a quarter of the industry’s senior leadership roles. Although a two-percent boost is a tiny spike, it shows that technology firms are taking small steps to recruit, hire, retain, and promote women. Despite these efforts, an Accenture study showed how gender equality in the tech industry has declined since 1984, with 35 percent female representation decades ago. More alarming is that 50 percent of women are likely to leave their technology jobs by age 35, compared to 20 percent in other industries. 

When weighing gender diversity and bias initiatives across the board, technology companies demonstrate slower progress than other industries, even though the sector dominates innovation in every aspect. Some of the obstacles they face include gender bias, discrimination, unequal opportunities, and lack of representation, especially in leadership positions. 

The technology industry has set in motion some initiatives, like encouraging science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for girls, fostering inclusivity in workplace cultures, and advocating for equal opportunities. Still, gender equality persists as an evolving process. In the coming years, gender equity and diversity deserve continuous attention and effort to build a more inclusive and supportive environment and to hire, retain, and promote women in technology positions.

The benefits of increased gender diversity and employing more women in tech

New research by Morgan Stanley reports that tech companies with strong gender diversity policies and initiatives achieve better bottom-line results. Considering this fact, many tech organizations have placed gender diversity programs front and center. 

By increasing gender diversity and employing more women in technology careers, companies will gain diverse backgrounds, knowledge, experiences, and perspectives to further innovation and improve productivity and decision-making. Many technology companies develop products and solutions for the consumer market where women dominate spending. With increased gender diversity and unique perspectives in workforces, companies can improve innovation and creativity. Since tech companies are building products, services, and solutions for a global, diverse population, having a biased perspective or a predominantly male workplace is a distinct disadvantage. Also, companies can strategically address a skills shortage by employing more women in tech firms and expanding their talent pools. Organizations that hire more women and are strongly focused on tackling gender issues, biases, and stereotypes enhance their public reputation and marketplace competitiveness, attracting top talent, clients, and investors.

Companies with robust gender diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives

Many companies across the globe understand the value of diversity and have made enormous strides to prioritize diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in hiring and retaining their workforce. One example is Accenture, which utilizes technology and innovation to achieve benefits, increasing parity for its clients, staff, and society. It has consistently received the highest rank on the Refinitiv Global Diversity & Inclusion Index for three years, becoming a workplace model for diversity and inclusion.

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) strives to be highly accessible by creating jobs for over a billion individuals with disabilities and endorsing equitable opportunities. It ranks in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity List by Diversity Inc. and the Corporate Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign. P&G improves DEI in the workplace by employing a globally diverse workforce, with 41 percent women and 28 percent multicultural employees, and 45 percent women and 45 percent multicultural leaders on its board of directors. The company pledges $5 billion annually to diversely owned and women-led businesses through 2030 to empower their growth and success and provide ongoing support.

Genentech understands diversity and inclusion are crucial to their company’s success and societal impact. Harnessing diversity has enabled Genentech to propel innovation, improve scientific and clinical outcomes, and contribute to equitable healthcare access. The company’s approach centers around fostering an inclusive community for staff, furthering inclusive research and patient health equity, and investing in partnerships that enhance diversity and inclusion across healthcare, education, and communities.

Why the technology industry struggles to attract and retain women

Why is it a huge undertaking for the tech industry to attract and retain women? The technology industry is a rapidly flourishing sector with a fast-paced work environment filled with demanding jobs and long hours, which create challenges for women with family responsibilities. Many technology businesses face corporate culture difficulties, like work-life balance issues, as individuals are focused on success and spend long hours working. This nonstop pressure to succeed creates a competitive environment built on efficiency and instant results, making it less likely for women to pursue technology careers, especially if they have children. To keep up with the fast pace, women are required learn new skills to boost their careers. Almost 80 percent of women in technology report that they must put in extra effort and hours compared to male coworkers to establish and grow their careers.

Additionally, there is a belief that the tech industry is better suited to men, resulting in gender discrimination and making it difficult for women to land technology jobs and advance in the field. For example, men are more likely to be promoted than women, even with comparable qualifications and education. In tech roles, a gender disparity exists—for every 100 men, only 52 women receive promotions to manager. Statistics also show that women may face sexual harassment by colleagues, managers, and even clients in male-dominated tech environments. This misconduct makes it complicated for women to feel comfortable, safe, or even thrive in a workplace that is prone to bias.

Many tech organizations, especially smaller-scale companies, lack diversity and inclusion-promoting policies, like schedule flexibility, mentorship programs, and family-focused benefits. Businesses prioritizing these principles are more likely to attract and maintain a diverse workforce. For an individual, especially a woman, to succeed in their career, networking is vital. It is much harder for women to advance in the tech field if networking opportunities are limited or unavailable. Many tech companies now focus on networking and mentorship opportunities for women, but the effectiveness of those programs is still limited to large corporations. 

Academic bias and how it affects women in technology

Academic bias is the systematic and unfair treatment of individuals or groups based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics in educational settings. It takes many forms, such as implicit bias, stereotype threat, and microaggressions. For women in technology, academic bias results in the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, decreased salaries, and fewer opportunities for career advancement. For instance, social expectations may hinder girls from taking STEM courses, limiting the number of women working in STEM careers. The smaller percentage of women in leadership positions in STEM organizations creates a need for role models and mentors for women.

Girls need encouragement and support to learn STEM subjects by providing more access to educational resources and female role models in STEM fields. Educational institutions can strive to enhance a more inclusive curriculum that inspires females to pursue STEM. Businesses can foster a welcoming and diverse culture to encourage women to seek technological jobs.

Strategies to adapt to recruit, hire, and retain female talent 

Many tech organizations have put in place numerous initiatives and strategies to build a supportive environment and combat gender diversity issues and biases that negatively impact the career progression of women. These strategies are valuable in promoting a more inclusive and diverse environment. Companies can ensure more diverse representation from the start—during the hiring process—to establish an inclusive, unbiased company culture. It’s critical for human resource teams to develop gender-neutral job descriptions that eliminate bias to expand a broader talent pool. When seeking qualified candidates, companies can showcase a flexible work environment with remote work, hybrid work options, or flexible hours to appeal to more female candidates. It’s essential that DEI policies, such as diversity training for employees and managers and career development opportunities to help advance women’s careers, are implemented within the company’s walls. Mentorship programs help female employees collaborate with experienced mentors to achieve more support and guidance. Another positive strategy includes clear communication of advancement paths and criteria across organizations to achieve transparency. 

Retaining a diverse workforce involves many necessary actions, including offering family-friendly policies, parental leave, and other helpful options to address the needs of female employees. Investing in diversity at every level is crucial to success. 

Organizations can offer professional development opportunities so women can fine-tune their skills and grow in their careers. Companies will find success by establishing resource groups to advocate and support women and other diverse groups. It’s also critical to review pay gaps and variances continuously to ensure equal pay policies, provide regular feedback to help employees succeed, and recognize and reward staff for their efforts and contributions.

Women who work in tech need added flexibility and a clear path to flourish in their careers, depending on their stage of life and family needs. Tech companies can offer diverse roles in different functions to provide more flexibility and career growth. 

Successful leaders who are empathetic and transparent about their careers better understand their female counterparts. Great leaders recognize the need for flexibility and build trust among team members so that staff can gain more opportunities, skills, and knowledge.

Future of gender diversity in tech companies

Today, many organizations have attained measurable success in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dell states that by 2030, 50 percent of the global workforce and 40 percent of global leaders will identify as women. With this positive outlook for the future, tech companies will likely make continuous progress to become more diverse. So far, more than 75 percent of tech companies have implemented equal pay policies.

Several tech companies have publicly committed to boosting the number of women in technical and leadership roles and improving gender diversity. Additionally, they are strengthening their initiatives to incorporate more diversity in the workforce and leadership ranks by age, race, and other social factors. For instance, Hewlett-Packard has committed to exceeding market representation for racial/ethnic minorities and achieving 50 percent gender equality in roles at the director level and above by 2030. Additionally, Intel seeks to increase the number of females and minorities in leadership roles by 2030.

The underrepresentation of women in technology requires constant attention and effort and a multifaceted approach to achieve a company culture that values diversity, equality, and inclusion. It is imperative that technology organizations foster an environment that is fair to all employees and structure their workforce and policies where additional flexibility, care, and support exist to hire and retain female talent. In simple terms, the optimal armor against bias is hiring a more diverse workforce, supporting these dedicated and talented workers, and creating an inclusive environment in every facet of business. Ultimately, companies that value diversity and make positive changes unlock their true potential.

About the Author:

Medha Pant is a telecom product management and operations director with more than 15 years of experience. She has deep knowledge of information technology, high-tech industry in a variety of functions, including engineering, corporate strategy, product management, and product operations/commercials at Fortune 500 companies like Goldman Sachs and Dell Technologies. Medha worked at the intersection of business and technology and launched several products seeing them through the end-to-end lifecycle. She received a Master of Business Administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a Bachelor of Technology from the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology. For more information, contact her at or on LinkedIn.

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