Why we need more women in tech (and how to attract them)
Tech is a man’s world. While women make up roughly half of the population of Ireland, they lag behind in terms of representation at management and higher-level positions. Women working in tech also earn 17pc less than the overall industry average.
Here’s how businesses and individuals can help to redress the imbalance:
Bring tech to the classroom
We need to teach girls about the opportunities in tech from a young age. Community-based programming clubs like CoderDojo are leading the charge in this area, but we also need to get schools involved. Tech careers need to be included in primary school workbooks and secondary school career events. Education empowers girls to pursue technical careers.
Introduce flexible work hours
Statistics from the CSO show that 86 pc of childless women work, compared to 57 pc of those with children aged three or under. It’s clear that many women feel forced to put their career on hold after having a child. One way to counteract this drop-off is to promote flexible working hours for parents. This is a good way to support women in the workplace.
Write gender-free job specs
A study by Hewlett Packard found that men are more likely to apply for jobs when they possess 60 pc of its requirements, whereas women will only apply when they meet 100pc of them. This way of thinking deters many women from applying for roles in tech, creating an unrealistic perception of working in the industry.
Companies also need to monitor the language that they use in job ads, paying special attention to the use of masculine traits. Including other team members in this process is a great way to ensure that the text is not biased and make the hiring process more balanced.
Judge women based on their capabilities
The Institute of Directors in Ireland’s survey shows women may find it difficult to get on boards or progress in their tech careers if they do not have contacts within the industry. 67 pc of respondents said they knew of three or more people on the board before they joined it. This clearly creates a diversity problem. To counteract this, we must judge women on their capabilities, not who they know.
Provide mentorship programmes
Mentorship is a great way to get more women involved in the tech industry. Mentoring programmes can help support and encourage women to apply for senior positions. They also help to create a talent pipeline of experienced and confident candidates. Through mentorships, women can gain confidence, expertise and advice from others in their field (both men and women).