To some, it may not seem like a big deal. Sure, these numbers are horror-movie-level frightening, and the tech industry is mostly male-populated. So what?
Well for one, this glaring gender gap in tech means our businesses aren’t doing as well as they could be — across all industries.
Check this out: Women-led companies have historically performed three times better than those with male CEOs. This trend is true with startups, too. The venture-backed companies that were acquired most often had a 7 percent share of female execs, as opposed to 3 percent at unsuccessful (unacquired) firms.
Even the most valuable and innovative tech companies out there struggle with these gender-blind issues. Take the search engine behemoth for example: Google only has a 30 percent female workforce — and they don’t bother collecting wage data for the company (too expensive, too burdensome).
Plus, surveys have reported that women are more in-tune with tech. For example, women in western countries use the internet 17 percent more than their male counterparts. They use their mobile phones, social media platforms, and location-based services more; plus, they are lead adopters of new technology and an essential demographic for so many tech industries.
How could this be true and not negatively affect businesses in tech? Answer: it can’t. Clearly, our tech workforce isn’t accurately representing those they serve. These deep and obvious cracks in the system are harming our businesses, our people, and our futures.
And we’re just getting started. Women face harassment and sexism in the workplace, plus, brazen unfriendliness to family planning, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. The atmosphere fostered in such environments is not just harming us now. It’s going to keep adversely affecting a future generation at large: girls who are interested in tech fields, but might be dissuaded from entering them because of biases, harassment, exclusivity, gender inequality, discrimination, and other toxic realities. That means our futures — and the future of our businesses — might be as bleak (or bleaker) as our present if we don’t make some crucial adjustments — and soon.
Houston, we have a (very big) problem.
“Most people don’t have to look far to see the gender gap play out in any number of industries,” says Tracey Welson-Rossman, Chief Marketing Officer of Chariot Solutions and founder of TechGirlz. “Tech is no different. Whether it be workplace conditions, a lack of access to key creative roles, or finding out that a male colleague gets paid more for the same work, the tech industry suffers the same shortcomings and challenges that all industries face. By making a concerted effort to increase women in this industry, we will see begin to see a change. That change will accelerate as even more women become empowered through these careers, normalizing the idea of women in tech and earning them increased economic power.”
That said, let’s chat about what we’re doing to turn the tides, and then, what your company can do. There’s a lot of work to be done.