Women in Tech: Missed opportunities and challenges

Technologists have been one of the most in-demand workforces across the world for the last 20 years; top organizations and exciting start-ups are still in need of more talented people to cover well-paid and motivating jobs. Yet, women still need to take advantage of these opportunities. Why? What’s needed to get global female tech experts into these roles?

Why I’m writing this article

I’m working at Andela to help achieve its vision of making the world a better place by connecting global technologists, who can be found in any region, with the best job opportunities, which are unfortunately not as well distributed. But information technology and remote work are allowing us to change that. Creating equal access to opportunities is not easy, but we’re committed to it. And there will be no equal access if we can’t break down the walls of location, race, beliefs, and gender.

Women comprise just 25% of large tech companies’ workforce, resulting from a vast combined effort and struggle through the years for equity. Only 25% of the total employees in tech companies are women, and those organizations, especially large ones, have significant DEI programs that help them to stand out from other industries.

According to The World Bank, the global labor force participation rate for women is just over 50% compared to 80% for men.

And most women are employed in the “services sector.” For example, up to 65% in Peru, 58% in Romania, 85% in Germany and France, 90.4% in the US, and 91.7% in the U.K of the female employments are employed by the services industry. In countries with a lower share of that type of employment, such as the Congo, which is up to 25%, Morocco at 34.6%, or India at 28%, agriculture is the leading sector for women workers (Congo at 71.5%, Morocco at 52%, India at 54.7%).

About the Fight

Why is March 8 International Women’s Day?

In 1911, the first commemoration of the International Day of Working Women was held. On that day 112 years ago, it’s estimated that more than a million people took to the streets in Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland to demand the right to vote for women, the right to work, to hold public office, job training, and non-discrimination at work. Some of these demands have been met over 100 years later, but how does the labor market stand for women in 2023?

Well, it’s far from good, but still way better than 112 years ago.

As Gilbert Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, said:

Women are the future of tech roles.

According to a recently published piece by McKinsey, to remain competitive in technological growth and innovation, Europe must recruit and retain women for the fastest-growing tech roles of the foreseeable future.

But we need to fix a few things now, as record numbers of women leaders in tech are leaving their jobs.

71% of women have worked in a tech company with a strong “bro culture.”

Why are so many women leaders in tech leaving their jobs? A recent McKinsey study about Women in the Workplace revealed three principal causes:

  1. Women leaders want to advance, but they face stronger headwinds than men. Women leaders are as likely as men at their level to want to be promoted and aspire to senior-level roles. In many companies, however, they experience microaggressions that undermine their authority and signal that it will be harder for them to advance.
  2. Women leaders are overworked and underrecognized. Compared with men at their level, women leaders do more to support employee well-being and foster DEI — work that dramatically improves retention and employee satisfaction but is not formally rewarded in most companies.
  3. Women leaders are seeking a different culture of work. Women leaders are significantly more likely than male leaders to leave their jobs because they want more flexibility or because they want to work for a company that is more committed to employee well-being and DEI.

Key Statistics:

  • Just 10% of those in C-suite professional roles are women.
  • Since 2019, the representation of women in senior vice president roles has decreased from 18% to 13%.
  • Black women CEOs receive up to 38% less in pay than their white male coworkers and counterparts.
  • 2 Black women are Fortune 500 CEOs.
  • Among the 3,000 largest US companies, only 5.5% of the CEOs are women.

Want to support women? Let them lead.

Kim Stearns for the Fast Company wrote that “The tech industry is still a tight-knit old boys’ club. Women are a minority in most (if not all) tech spaces. If “brogrammer” culture continues, the technology industry will lose any number of talented women to burnout or better opportunities. If the tech industry wants to be inclusive of women, women must be allowed to lead.”

Women are 3.5 times more likely to be 35+ and still in a junior tech position.

Flexible and remote work matters.

As McKinsey’s “Women in the Workplace 2022 “ research revealed, the option to work remotely is especially important to women. Only one in ten women want to work mostly on-site, while many women point to remote- and hybrid-work options as one of their top reasons for joining or staying with an organization.

These preferences are about more than flexibility. When women work remotely, at least some of the time, they experience fewer microaggressions and higher levels of psychological safety. The decrease in microaggressions is especially pronounced for women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities — groups that typically face more demeaning and ‘othering’ behavior.

In Andela, we’ve seen how women’s applications to join our learning programs, like the Google Africa Developer Scholarship (created with Google and its fifth year of the program), are growing. The number of women applying to join the Andela Talent Network, which requires at least three years of experience and a challenging assessment process, is also growing but still far from equity. We are committed to finding that parity.

Women in Technology Statistics

According to Tech Jury:

  • One in every four GAFAM workers is female.
  • 31.4% of Apple’s leadership belongs to women.
  • In 1985, 37% of all US bachelors in Computer Sciences were women.
  • Only 37% of tech startups have one or more women on their boards of directors.
  • 63% of men in tech consider their companies diverse enough when it comes to gender.
  • The ratio of men to women in engineering is 5:1.
  • 25.5% of Google’s leaders on a global scale are women.
  • Fortune 500 companies with at least three women in leading positions saw a 66% increase in ROI.

Women In Tech: Entrepreneurial Trends

Source: Builtin

The latest estimates show that up to 40% of US businesses are owned by women.

64% of all new women-owned companies have been started by Black, Latina, or Asian women.

Despite this trend, however, women still received far fewer investment and funding opportunities for new businesses. In fact, certain data suggests that women receive only 2% of invested funds per year.

More women in C-suite and senior leadership positions in tech reported burnout conditions, with 57% of women in STEM fields suffering from the condition.

Key Statistics:

  • Women own around 40% of all US businesses.
  • 64% of all new women-owned businesses have female founders of color.
  • Latina women-owned companies grew more than 87% since the pandemic.
  • 66% of women entrepreneurs find it challenging to obtain business funding.
  • Women-led businesses comprise only 4.9% of all venture capital deals.
  • More women CEOs and women in executive-level positions experience burnout, with 57% of women in tech reporting the condition.
  • Female entrepreneurs ask for roughly $35,000 lower salaries than male entrepreneurs.
  • Women receive almost $5,000 less in loans on average than male respondents.

Seven interventions could raise women’s share of total tech roles to around 45 2027 by 2027:

1. Promote learning: sync and async inclusive programs

74% of girls desire a career in STEM fields.

2. Ramp up: Address STEM drop-off in university

Education, access, and retention are huge problems.

This is the share of graduates in Information and Communication Technologies programs, female (%):

India (46.3%), African countries like Algeria (48.9), Sudan (53%), Peru (49.6%), Argentina (33%), Panama (43%), in Latin America, and Bulgaria (38%) in Europe are some of the countries with better parity in the share of graduates in Information and Technologies tertiary programs.

3. Reframe: Enable women in tech to thrive at work

4. Retain: Give women a reason to stay in tech

5. Redeploy: Ensure women are in tech roles that matter

6. Remote work: Build remote opportunities to warrant access to brilliant talent worldwide

7. Invest: Women-led businesses comprise only 4.9% of all venture capital deals

Some resources:

Women Lift Women: 6 episodes for empowering women in tech, led by tech leaders in Andela.

Andela Learning Community: Join the thousands of software engineers advancing their careers through our learning community.

Create more remote jobs, and bring opportunities worldwide. Embrace remote teams, your company’s productivity will increase, and you will support a better world. If you are looking for remote technologists or want to get started finding talent, Andela’s platform is your solution.

A Call-to-Action 

My profession is marketing, and I will use one of its most common concepts: the call to action. I’m going to split it into two main points, one mentioning the concepts of someone smarter than me and the second by remembering and transforming a traditional message that is shared with men when are children about women.

  1. As Laith Abu-Taleb, a 28-year-old gender equality activist and tech entrepreneur from Jordan, says, “ We are living in 2023. We can’t separate gender equality and technology”.

Laith is the co-founder of HeForShe, a movement to engage men in the fight for gender equality, “I believe that every one of us should have an impact,” Laith says. Start by educating yourself and those around you: “we can do this while we are having dinner with our friends or breakfast with our families”, or by speaking out through social media. Maybe you only reach one person, “but this one person can influence another one and another one and then another one,” he says. “So you are making a chain of impact.”

2. I was born in Colombia 40 years ago, and there was a phrase about women always being taught to men “treat a woman as you want your mother and your sister to be treated.” This sentence indicates that men should be condescending to women, and it’s time to transform that: mothers, sisters, neighbors, and every woman needs equal access to opportunities; they need to be treated as doctors, engineers, artisans, musicians, designers, or whatever they choose to. This is not a competition between men and women; equal access to opportunities will bring us a better world.

Written by Carlos Carrascal, Director, Talent Marketing at Andela

Want to be part of a vibrant tech community? Then join the Andela Talent Network!

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