Women in leadership: The key stats
Just 22% of major tech companies have more than five women on their executive boards, but more than 90% are seeking to boost these numbers, according to exclusive research carried out by TechInformed.
The Pulse Survey, carried out by iResearch Services on behalf of TechInformed, found that almost 60% of companies surveyed are actively working to appoint more women in senior roles, while 32% said they are working on a strategy to do so. Encouragingly, just 3% said this was not a priority.
It comes as the exclusive data showed that less than half of the companies asked had 20 or more women in senior leadership positions, with 53% of respondents saying their business had between one and 19 women holding senior roles. Overall, less than 10% said there were over 50 women in senior roles in their organisations, with the highest figure being between 30-39 at 16.5%.
Women predominantly led HR functions at 78% of the companies surveyed, followed by marketing roles, in which women held leadership positions at 65% of the companies.
Women predominantly led HR functions at 78% of the companies surveyed, followed by marketing roles, in which women held leadership positions at 65% of the companies. Overall, iResearch surveyed 200 executives at different companies, with an equal split across the US and UK, as part of an International Women’s Day Pulse Survey.
Around half of those surveyed said their company is actively working on an diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, while 34% said they were at the stage of developing one. A further 11% said they would like to develop one, with just 5.5% saying it is not a priority.
This supports figures provided by Deloitte at the end of 2021, which found that the technology industry—or at least its largest players—will likely continue to close the gender gap in the year ahead.
Deloitte’s report estimates tech firms will reach nearly 33% female representation in their workforces in 2022, up slightly more than 2 percentage points from 2019.
But there are still major challenges in encouraging women to enter the tech space. A PwC survey found that just 3% of women say a career in technology is their first choice, with 78% of students unable to name a famous female working in the sector.
STEM subjects are traditionally considered as masculine by many. All too often, teachers and parents may steer girls away from pursuing such areas – with females making up just 26% of STEM graduates in 2019
The issues are reflected at the biggest tech firms – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft (GAFAM). Figures from Statista estimate that just 25% of employees at these giants are female, and this falls to 20% when it comes to leadership roles.
Research shows there are currently few incentives to retain female tech talent. One study found that 66% of women reported that there was no clear path of career progression for them in their current tech companies – suggesting the very reason why women tend to end up in the more ‘customer facing’ roles, such as marketing, sales or customer support, or HR.
The gender gap is also causing problems in the technology industry such as women feeling like they are being overlooked in meetings, they aren’t taken seriously, and their ideas are being dismissed by their male counterparts. This may be a contributing factor as to why the quit rate in technology is more than twice as high for women (47%) than it is for men (17%).
There is also a pay gap in the sector. Around 78% of large organisations admitted to having a gender pay gap in tech, with males earning more than females. Only 14% of businesses have a median pay gap for women and 8% have no pay gap at all.
Another unique challenge for women in the workplace is maternity leave or taking a break to raise a family. Employers might question the gap in their CV when they eventually want to return to work after taking a break. A recent study shows that three in five professional women return to lower paid or lower-skilled jobs following their career breaks.
But for businesses, there is not just a moral reason to solve the gender gap, but also a financial one. Challenges faced by women returning to the workplace costs the UK an estimated £1.7 billion a year in lost economic output, for example.
According to a Women in Tech survey, 81% of women believe the technology industry would benefit from having a gender equal workforce. To achieve this, talking about diversity is key – the same survey found 88% of women would be drawn towards an organisation that speaks openly about diversity.
“As our personal and working lives become increasingly shaped by technology -technology products and services are being developed and delivered based on the perspectives of only one half of the population.”
PwC in its report on closing the gender gap explains why it is such a key goal: “So, what does this persistent gender imbalance mean? In our view, the gap between men and women studying and working in technology isn’t just unjustifiable in societal terms, and unfair with regard to female skills and participation in the workforce.
“It also means that – as our personal and working lives become increasingly shaped by technology -technology products and services are being developed and delivered based on the perspectives of only one half of the population, and not designed with the needs of everyone in mind.”
PwC suggests four solutions for the tech industry:
- – Educating students about technology and how it is shaping the world
- – Increasing access to tech careers
- – Increasing the visibility of role models at all levels
- – And providing an attractive work environment that helps women reach their potential
If we can achieve this, it will help close the gender gap across technology.
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