The female representation in Tech
An insight into the tech market over the past few years and why women are still missing
In the year 2021, just over 33% of STEM students in Germany were women but only 17% were employed by IT start-up companies.
According to Gwi-boell, the IT job landscape consists of over 80% males - and the majority of women don’t want to engage or retrain for tech employment. 36% of females in tech don't feel that there are enough changes within their companies with the goal of improving the gender gap.
However, 63% of men in the tech sector perceive their company to be “equal employers” when it comes to the gender gap. This shows a distinct disparity in how company’s efforts are perceived between those who identify as male and female.
According to womenintech, other reasons why women decided to move away from the tech industry are the lack of promotion and that it is dominated by males. Many report not being taken seriously in this industry when it comes to their opinion and status.
The digital field is still male-dominated, and only 17% of the tech companies in Germany are women (this is 19% worldwide). Gwi-boell states the barriers that women face, which could contribute as to why the volume of women in tech is still so low:
- Not everyone has access to the required technology such as a laptop
- Due to missing work experience in the digital and tech sector, a lot of women face a lack of confidence.
- They have never received any support from local boot camps, or digital training programs in order to apply for IT roles in the tech industry.
- Employers during the interview stage are biased and women still face discrimination.
- Companies don’t see a stable career for women because of maternity leave, burnout phases or because of their lifestyle through their religious background. According to Aclu, for some businesses it can be too difficult to embed religious practices in a typical European/Western company. Some of the religious practices could require prayer breaks, fasting during religious holidays, or exceptions to uniforms.
- According to (Lennon & Miller, 1984, p. 2, emphasis added) and (Conner, Peters, & Nagasawa, 1975; Davis, 1984; Douty, 1963), a religious head covering often forms a large portion of a first impression – because we rely on visible cues and seek information based on these sources.
Women in the tech can face several ways of barriers and discrimination through job-seeking processes. It’s common for a woman to be asked if they have children or if they are planning to have children, as it’s often assumed as more challenging for a woman to go back to work full time after starting a family. Statistics also suggest that women with refugee status rarely reach interview stages – particularly those who wear a religious head covering.
How to increase the number of women in the tech sector:
In order to attract more women and other people coming from diverse backgrounds, it is important not to fall into the pattern of tokenism. For example, hiring someone just because they come from an under-represented group in order to appear as inclusive would be classed as tokenism. Instead of focusing on people of a represented group at the end of the team-building stage, try to have an “equal balance” and perform actions that attract every one of your potential candidates right at the beginning of the interview stage.
Here are the following ideas to attract more diverse candidates - including women:
- Become aware of unconscious bias and try to have a neutral mindset when interviewing a woman or anyone else.
- Rethink your employer’s brand, online presence, and work policy if these are attractive to a diverse group of people. Does it represent a diverse group of people?
- Present a clear statement and show your company values.
- Support or initiate public funding that provides training and education programs. These should be accessible to everyone and consist of diverse leadership and diverse participants.
- Embed and promote the regulation to remove photos and other personal data from CVS. This will help reduce bias when looking at CVs.
- If necessary, restructure your company policy in order to embed equality for every gender.
- Present clear career development careers and training sessions.
Make sure to create an inclusive environment in your business by offering everyone equal and flexible work requirements so everyone can express him/her/themselves. According to womenintech, other reasons why women decided to move away from the tech industry are the lack of promotion and that it is dominated by males. The problem is that they don’t feel taken seriously as a person when it comes to setting through their opinion and status.
Where can women and other under-represented groups find support?
17goalsmagazin provides several initiatives in Germany to bridge the Gender Digital Gap:
One of them is the institution called shetransformsit which supports courses in politics, business, civil society, education & science and supports women in the digital transformation. They can be found via the hashtag #SheTransformsIT
Another institute is Global Digital Woman that provide training, events, and workshops about digitalisation and female empowerment.
The Digital Career Institute provides courses online and is accessible to everyone. It started as an initiative to integrate refugees into the job field of tech and digitalisation. Nowadays, they train everyone who is interested in a tech career.
Meetup is also a great platform to meet like-minded people. You could join a group that has tech training courses, for example: “discover: code-free coding workshops for women”
There are plenty of professional platforms for coding that include a diverse audience.
The benefits to include more women in the tech sector are that it firstly improves the gender gap which helps to improve equality in society as a whole. You’ll create a more diverse working environment which will, in turn, boost company culture and will attract a wider variety of applicants for future roles.
Working on one project will be a different procedure when including women.