Passionate about technology and skill development, Arun Goyat, Founder & CEO of CodeQuotient, is committed to transform and enhance skills of aspiring programmers. His goal is to cultivate measurable progress with learners as he helps them hone their programming skills through project-based learning. He pursued his graduation in 2003 from Kurukshetra university and has pulled off various stints with renowned names in the industry to build his expertise. Arun has 17+ years of work experience in the field of technology and has previously worked in technology companies and start-ups across business, engineering and product management roles.
There’s little doubt over the fact that in the tech industry, women are underrepresented. They have been traditionally seen as a minority in the workforce and they have to work twice as hard to prove themselves in the corporate space. Men currently dominate software development roles within the technology sector. A global survey published on Statista also demonstrates that female software developers account for just 8 percent of positions in the field. And this is not just the case in software development but in the entire tech industry. Let’s try and understand the reasons behind this gender gap and what organizations need to do to bridge this divide.
The gender gap in the tech industry is a hotly debated topic. One side of the argument states that there are too few women in tech because they are not interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields and because of social biases. The other side argues that women are not given enough opportunities to enter the tech industry and that this lack of opportunity is what leads to the gender gap. Now irrespective of which side of the spectrum one stands on, we need to look closely at the facts in order to analyze the situation.
Going by a PWC research paper, females are far less likely to consider a career in technology compared to their male counterparts. Even if we look across schools and colleges in India, it’s fairly visible that very few girls enroll in engineering classes, with a maximum representation of around 2-3 females per section. This STEM gender gap at school and university then further carries through to their career choices. The PWC study further found that only 27% of the female respondents overall said they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. And only 3% of them claimed that a career in technology would be their first choice, while among males the numbers were 5 times more.
Now, as far as the tech industry is concerned these are troubling signs as a lack of diversity can limit innovation within organizations. Women engineers tend to have a far more creative bent of mind compared to men and therefore senior managers must do more to support diversity and realize the competitive advantage diversity can bring to software development team dynamics and productivity rates of development. Also in order to achieve gender equality, it is necessary to find ways for supporting women in leadership roles and career advancement.
And hence, women’s leadership and career advancement are important topics for many companies. For instance, research has shown that women at lower levels are more likely to be promoted than men if they work at companies with female leaders. Then there are also examples of female entrepreneurs who have created their own startups and achieved phenomenal success.
To support organizational gender diversity and inclusion, senior managers should also ensure that the hiring process appeals not only to men but to women as well. Organizations need to deduce potential hiring bias and encourage more women into the hiring pipeline. One way to achieve this is to introduce blind candidate screening, pre-employment testing and ensuring that shortlists include an equal share of women to create better awareness. Even the job descriptions should demonstrate that the organisation is committed to creating an inclusive environment.
The lack of representation of women in the industry is not only a problem for the women who are working in the industry but also for society as a whole. It’s therefore important to have female-focused initiatives and programs that work to create an equitable and sustainable environment for everyone. This can be done by partnering with academic institutions to create graduate-level programmes and internal awareness schemes. These initiatives help widen the talent pool and address the software developer shortage that is currently experienced in the industry. And as the academic awareness rises and more young women are encouraged to take up STEM subjects, it’ll be all the more beneficial for organisations to get involved in graduate and intern level initiatives. And more so, these initiatives can address the skill gap that exists in the industry. By providing practical knowledge and experience to university graduates, these programs can help provide industry players with skilled professionals that are job ready from the first day.
Additionally, organisations should try and foster an inclusive culture by frequently evaluating diversity and inclusion policies. A McKinsey survey on understanding organisational barriers to a more inclusive workplace also noted that a sense of inclusion is strongly linked with employee engagement. The survey found that respondents who feel included are much more likely than others to be fully engaged in terms of excitement and commitment to their work and team. Therefore organisations that foster a more inclusive culture tend to have a far better employee engagement and retention rate.