Best Ways to Support Women in Your Tech Company

Thursday 06/05/2021 - 5:24

You’re probably well aware that women remain underrepresented in tech company positions. Improvements are ongoing, but it’ll take a while to get closer to true gender equality—according to the 2021 Techopedia Women in Tech survey, people in the industry expect it will be 32 years before gender parity is reached in the tech fields.

Here are best ways to support women in your tech company.

Recruit Women for Leadership Positions

Hiring women for lower-level positions is a starting point but should not be your main goal. If females in tech don’t see peers in leadership roles, they’ll likely conclude that it’s only possible to progress to a certain level; one lower than what male counterparts could achieve.

A 2020 study found that only 42% of tech startups in the United States have at least one woman in an executive position. Then, just 40% had women serving on the board of directors. However, a more positive statistic was that 30% of the companies polled had started programs to increase female leadership opportunities. Company representatives are also becoming more aware of gender quotas on boards, as evidenced by a California Senate bill passed to introduce them several years ago.

Use Inclusive Language

Job ads have a long history of featuring language that could make women feel shut out of possibilities. If a description mentions something like “manpower” or “mankind” or says “he” instead of “they,” females could get the impression that they should look elsewhere for work.

You may be surprised that a recent study showed only 38% of job advertisements use gender neutral language. However, deciding to do that paid off by attracting more applicants and bringing a lower cost per application.

Scrutinize all your current and past job postings for non-inclusive language. One of the easiest approaches is to steer clear of gender altogether by referring to “humans,” “people” or “customers.”

Maybe your tech company sells a product that you expect females to use more than males or vice versa. Even in that case, try to speak about your company’s work as inclusively as possible.

Support Ongoing Learning To Close Skills Gaps

Getting women into tech positions is only half the battle. Companies also must encourage them to stay. One practical option is to offer ongoing learning programs that give females the skills they need to get the most out of their work.

A 2019 survey polled women in tech who had stayed in their roles for at least eight years and achieved senior positions to see what made them remain. Most (56%) said it was because they were good at the work.

However, it’s easy to see how someone might conclude that the work is not the right fit for them if they lack the skills to do it well and lack the opportunity to change that. Offering women the training they need to address existing skills gaps could also target a broader issue with tech shortages. If companies have larger pools of competent internal staff members, they can hire from within more often.

Offer Flexible Schedules for Employees Who Are Caregivers

Females have historically filled most informal caregiving roles, such as those involving children or older parents. More specifically, research indicates that women and girls contribute more than 70% of caregiving hours around the world. Additionally, of the people participating in such roles, 21% said they’d negatively impacted their careers.

It’s certainly not easy for people to balance caregiving and involvement in the workplace. However, one thing you can do to make it more manageable is to provide more flexibility.

For example, if a woman worked at your tech company during non-traditional hours, it might be easier for her to fit everything into the day. That’s especially true if she can segment her day into hours set aside for caregiving and formal employment.

Other possibilities might be to allow working from home on certain days of the week or try a system where the person is at home for a week and in the office the next. When commuting is out of the equation, handling the caregiving-workplace load seems more manageable.

Start Supporting Women Strategically

Some company representatives make the mistake of trying to implement too many changes at once to support women in tech. The ideal approach is to see where the most significant issues lie. Then, use the tips here to make meaningful changes.

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