Tech Needs More Women
This post was authored by Sierra Ruiz, an employee relations specialist at Revature.
As we near the end of Women’s History Month 2023, I have been reflecting on female representation in the world of tech. In short, there aren’t enough of us. Here in the United States, women now make up around half the workforce overall—but represent only 27 percent of workers in STEM fields. Women in tech are also only around half as likely to be promoted into management roles. Clearly, there is more work to be done to achieve parity. But where to start? What can women themselves do? And how can employers help? Here are my thoughts.
To get ahead in any industry, you need to be good at your job. But you also need to project confidence, and in this regard, women often start at a disadvantage. Studies show that we rate our own achievements lower than men and are less likely to feel comfortable celebrating our successes. In fact, in my experience, negative self-talk is distressingly common among women. I have felt it myself: early in my career, I suffered from impostor syndrome. I felt as if I didn’t belong, as if I didn’t earn my degree, and so on.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but we can start to tackle this problem by intentionally listening to what our self-talk is telling us. As we do, we should ask ourselves: would we say the same to a loved one or a valued team member? If not, that’s a good indication that we need to reframe our self-perception.
To help us do that, we can surround ourselves with positive, capable people who have our best interests at heart. We should always be on the lookout for potential mentors. And we should pay it forward, going out of our way to support and celebrate the successes of our female colleagues. Studies show that women who support other women enjoy more success themselves. After all, as the saying goes, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”
Employers can help. First, they should make a conscious effort to hire more women and promote more of them into leadership roles. From my own experience, just seeing female leaders around the Revature office is an inspiration in and of itself: their achievements prove that it’s possible.
Second, employers should encourage women to mentor each other. In addition to offering inspiration, a mentoring relationship can help women find opportunities for career advancement, improve their engagement and productivity, and establish mutual accountability for goals.
Third, employers should get out into their community to start addressing wider issues of gender equality. For example, research sponsored by Microsoft shows that girls who are interested in STEM careers often become discouraged as teens. Employers could partner with local schools to keep girls engaged by providing speaker sessions, workshops, career days, or job shadowing.
Having more women in tech careers doesn’t just benefit women. More diverse companies tend to be more innovative and more profitable. An inclusive culture also helps in identifying and tackling the warning signs of unconscious bias, leading to better employee engagement and ultimately more revenue. So it’s in everybody’s best interests to get out there and inspire more women and girls to pursue their dreams.