Challenging Old Ideas: The Ongoing Need to Empower Women in Tech

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Technology has brought about revolutionary changes in nearly every facet of our lives. Technology is responsible for making huge strides everywhere you look – from the smartphone in your pocket to the systems that power the global economy. 

However, despite all of the advances that tech is responsible for, there’s one area where the industry continues to lack progress. And that’s the underrepresentation of women in the sector. 

The UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported in August 2023 that the number of women in the UK’s technology sector declined between the first and second quarters of the year despite the industry as a whole growing in numbers during the same period. 

It’s a topic that continues to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Even if these latest figures are regarded as a blip, it’s estimated that only one in four people working in tech are women. 

Or, to put it another way, there are still too many barriers in the tech industry that prevent women from entering the workforce, carving out a career and making a name for themselves. 

The Tech Industry Needs More Women 

Today, such an imbalance is simply unacceptable. For the tech industry to thrive, we need to be able to recruit and nurture the very best talent from all backgrounds. And that means encouraging more young girls and women to take an interest in, pursue and thrive in technology-related subjects and industries. 

Part of the problem lies in the impediments that block women’s chosen career paths. It’s a sad reflection that many of the barriers that exist today are imposed from an early age. There was a time when girls were steered away from certain subjects such as science and technology and encouraged to follow other disciplines instead. Historically, this has led to a disparity in gender representation within these industries that will take years to rebalance.  

While schools and colleges have worked hard to address and overcome the ‘gendering’ of subjects, there is little doubt that some people still harbor and enforce these stereotypes. But not only is it possible to challenge these conventional viewpoints, they can also be broken down. 

Events such as the recent Women’s World Cup have done a fantastic job by helping to smash gender stereotypes in what is regarded as a male-dominated sport, helping to inspire a new generation to show what’s possible. 

If it works in sports, it can work in tech. We need to harness that enthusiasm to encourage young girls to pursue and enjoy science and maths at school as a foundation for a lifelong career in technology. 

While addressing education would be a great start, the lack of diversity within tech-focused workplaces is another obstacle. To inspire others to pursue a career in tech, women need to see other women thrive. 

We must celebrate their achievements and pass on their wealth of knowledge and experience. That’s why mentorship among women is so important. 

Promoting Inclusivity Through Mentorship 

In the world of work, being part of a strong mentorship program is one of the most crucial steps anyone can take to advance their career. 

Mentors are pivotal in guiding individuals on their learning and development journey. But their role isn’t just to pass on their knowledge. They can also challenge you so that, perhaps, you see things differently. Perhaps more importantly, though, they can help smooth the path for those following in their footsteps, making the future of the industry is a better place for the next generation of workers.  

Crucially, mentors can open the door to networking so people can feel part of a community. Thankfully, this is happening more and more thanks to organizations such as Women in Tech, which receive the backing of an increasing number of workplaces and like-minded companies. 

By acknowledging this diversity, companies are enabling greater participation of women in the tech sector and helping them actively engage and contribute within the field. This encouragement and support are essential in giving an already underrepresented group the platform they need to make a real difference.  

Being True to Yourself is Vital  

The best suggestion I received from one of my early mentors was to “bring your real personality to the table.” When you think about it for a moment, that’s incredibly powerful. After all, if an organization can’t celebrate and foster your individuality, then you certainly don’t belong there. More importantly, they don’t deserve to have you. 

So, you also have to value yourself as an individual. Doing that – and celebrating all aspects of diversity and inclusion – has encouraged me to be authentic. 

Ultimately, if the tech sector is to address the underrepresentation of women in the industry, employers also need to implement policies to tackle inequality. From increasing women’s representation in leadership to having confidence in their decision-making skills, employers have the power to build an inclusive workplace and set fair compensation practices. 

This is just one of the ways they can address the elephant in the room. 

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