The argument for having more women in leadership positions, particularly in the tech industry, is stronger than ever. Women in leadership reduce financial risks and enhance business performance. The presence of female leaders is also associated with improved social and environmental responsibility within the organization.
According to The Economist, women are generally less corrupt and more moral than men. A Canadian study found that businesses with more women on their boards are more likely to disclose their greenhouse emissions.
Female-led businesses prioritize innovation and show a positive link to innovation output.
Women in Technology
The reality is, women face a more challenging time in more technical fields. Few women are represented, and opportunities for progress are harder to come by. A 2022 McKinsey report found that women are far less likely than men to work in technical fields, and the representation of women in these jobs is now even lower than it was in 2018.
This can lead to women frequently being the ‘only’ female in that workplace, which could explain why women in tech face higher rates of bias. The report found that these women are more likely than others to have their judgment questioned in their area of experience. They also believe their gender plays a role in their challenges in getting ahead.
The study concluded that female leaders face stronger hurdles despite equal ambition for senior roles. In many companies, women report experiencing ‘microaggressions that undermine their authority,’ making it harder for them to advance. For example, female leaders are more likely to have their opinions and qualifications for their jobs questioned.
Women as Leaders
Studies have shown time and again that women make excellent leaders. It has been found that women possess many important qualities for effective leadership. For example, women tend to be more empathetic, collaborative, and nurturing, which enhances team management and relationships.
Despite this, women remain extremely neglected in leadership positions across industries, including technology. This is partly due to systemic barriers and biases that hinder women’s career advancement and leadership access.
The under-representation of women on boards is not a reflection of their abilities but rather a result of discriminatory attitudes and beliefs. We must work to remove these biases and recognize that women bring unique perspectives and valuable contributions to the table. It is time to embrace the changing mindset of society and fully support women as they take on leadership roles.
To that end, many initiatives and organizations are working to address these barriers and support women in technology leadership positions. For example, some companies are implementing diversity and inclusion programs, offering mentorship and training opportunities, and setting targets for increasing the number of women in leadership roles.
Why Women Make Great Leaders
There are many reasons why women make great leaders:
- Communications skills – One of the most commonly cited reasons why women make good leaders is their strong communication skills. Women are often perceived as better listeners and more empathetic than men, which enables them to build strong relationships with their teams and stakeholders. They are also skilled at conflict management and communication, which help to build trust and foster a positive organizational culture.
- Emotional Intelligence – Women are also known for their high emotional intelligence, which enables them to build better relationships with their team members. They also motivate and inspire them, and navigate personality dynamics.
- Collaboration – Women are often perceived as more collaborative and team-oriented than men. Which further contributes to their ability to build strong teams and drive collective performance. They are also more likely to value diversity and inclusion.
- Mentorship – When women are in leadership roles, they serve as role models and mentors for other women in the organization. This helps to break down gender barriers and promote equal opportunities.
There is more to a woman’s strengths than simply her natural creativity, which is a common assumption. The notion that women are naturally creative, upholds harmful stereotypes and reinforces biased thinking. We must acknowledge and celebrate their multifaceted strengths rather than pigeonholing women into a single category.
Women possess natural leadership qualities, such as handling multiple tasks and stakeholders together. It is time for us to recognize that women can hold positions of power and influence and actively support their advancement.
What’s Holding Women Back in Technology?
Over the past few years, we have seen a major shift in the tech industry’s demographics. The focus on diversity and inclusion has become important. Some businesses have also acted to ensure they have a more balanced workforce. However, despite these efforts, technology leadership still overlooks women.
There are many reasons for this. One is the ‘pipeline problem.’ The percentage of women studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees is still low, meaning fewer women are entering the technology workforce. Further, the gender pay gap in the technology industry can be extreme, making it more difficult for women to advance to leadership positions.
However, there are signs that things are changing. Companies are beginning to prioritize diversity and inclusion, taking active initiatives to improve representation. Many businesses have started mentorship programs, development opportunities, and gender targets for promotions, all of which can help support women’s advancement.
There are also external organizations working to promote women in technology leadership. For example, Women in Technology International (WITI) is a global organization dedicated to empowering women in technology. They offer training, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help women advance their careers.
The Anita Borg Institute is another organization working towards increasing the representation of women in technology.
Various programs specifically aim to support women in technology leadership positions. For example, many organizations, like those mentioned above, offer mentorship programs, socializing events, and leadership training opportunities specifically for women in the industry. These programs can help women develop the skills and connections needed to succeed in leadership roles.
As well as this, as the role of technology continues to increase in every aspect of modern life, there is a need for skilled professionals who can develop and manage these systems. This presents a great opportunity for women interested in chasing technological careers, as there is likely to be strong demand for their skills.
What We Need To Do?
A more diverse leadership and workforce in technology can only mean positive growth for organizations and businesses. But, to wholeheartedly work towards this, everyone must get on board – including men.
The first step should be to commit to a holistic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. This aims to create an inclusive culture to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Next, it is essential to establish goal-setting, transparency, and accountability. Tech companies should aim to identify diversity metrics, report results, and track progress to revise their approach and improve.
Finally, tech companies must establish creative programs to hire, retain, and promote a diverse workforce. This may involve building programs to recruit and upskill unique talent. Companies should give mentorship programs and development opportunities to support neglected groups. Since less than a quarter of tech, media, and telecom companies have taken these steps, according to a report by Deloitte, there is much room for improvement.
Let’s conquer biases as we move towards a more equitable and diverse future. We must be open to change and willing to uplift and empower women as leaders. It’s time to break the hurdles that held women back for a long and create a better future for all.
So the question remains, will you join the movement towards equality and diversity in leadership, or will you remain a gazer?
Featured Image Credit: Pexels; Thank you!