When we talk about women in the tech industry it’s normally focus on the number of them, pay gaps, and gender discrimination. While we absolutely should be talking about that there’s so much more to women in the tech industry.
Women are killing it. They’re forging ahead, creating new ways of working, new technologies, new policies, new institutes. So it’s time to remember that and celebrate some truly incredible women in tech.
Slow but steady
There’s no hiding the fact that there’s a gender issue within the tech industry. Women make up about 25% of all workers in the tech sector, and only hold 11% of leadership roles. But despite this underrepresentation they’re still making a difference.
Our economy needs women in tech, analysis by McKinsey shows a tech talent gap of 1.4-3.9 million people by 2027 across EU-27 countries. This shortfall could be worth a GDP increase of up to €600 billion. Increasing the percentage of women in tech roles to 45%, so not even at gender parity, would plug that gap.
The number of women in tech is slowly but steadily increasing. For the tech industry that means more viewpoints, more diverse teams, more creativity, more productivity and more profits. It’s that foundation which is helping women to transform the tech industry.
Influential women in tech
There are different ways to be influential. You could be championing diversity, you could be outstanding in your job, you could be uncovering new tech and how to use it. We’ve decided to focus on a few women who are setting the industry on fire, with the huge caveat that there are so many amazing women, and men, in tech that we couldn’t possible include them all.
Kate Crawford, co-founder of New York University’s AI Now Institute
With a research background that delves into the benefits and dangers of AI, Crawford is championing a mindful and respectful development of AI. She co-founded the AI Now Institute in 2017 which aims to change how researchers look at AI and their interpretation of it from a technical, historical, sociological and legal standpoint.
Ellen Pao, co-founder and CEO of Project Include
As an advocate of women’s rights Pao banned revenge porn and unauthorised nudes on Reddit which inspired other social media platforms to follow suit. She then founded Project Include whose mission is to address and prevent sexism and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley to improve diversity in the tech industry.
Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX
Having started her career on military space research contracts, Shotwell became the chief engineer of an MLV-class satellite program. This led to her being hired by SpaceX as the vice president of business development. Since then Shotwell has progressed to become the president and COO.
Levelling the playing field for the future
The biggest way that women are transforming the tech industry is by forging a path for other women to follow. Because for women, a decision to pursue a career in STEM starts much earlier than many think. To encourage more women to join, and stay in, the tech industry we need to be looking at education initiatives and then at what opportunities can be created.
There are two points where participation in STEM drops - moving from compulsory education to university and then from university to the workplace. The drops are fairly significant. An 18% decline going into university and then a 15% decline entering the workforce.
Employers that are serious about creating gender equality in the tech industry need to start working with schools, colleges and universities to create educational initiatives that encourage and support women to succeed. Inspiring girls to be curious, to be technical and to be whatever they want to be.
For women to transform the tech industry, they need to be in the tech industry and not just working in administrative roles. Navisite found that 75% of women in tech are consistently asked to complete more administrative tasks than their male counterparts. That’s simply not good enough.
We’ve seen examples of women who are trailblazers in the industry, and then are so many more excelling at their chosen career and making waves - literally in some cases. But the opportunities have to be there to help them succeed. Women are less likely to put themselves forward for promotion, this isn’t about positive discrimination or measures to give women a boost. It’s about creating a supportive environment that nurtures talent and empowers everyone to succeed.
Women need to see amazing women doing amazing things in the tech industry, and then have the education and opportunities to get there themselves. We need to keep showcasing women who are transforming the industry and changing technology to help everyone remember that women are incredible and the tech industry is a better place for them being in it.
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