Of all the questions I get asked on repeat, one of the most common is: Why aren’t there more women in tech? And I get it – it’s a fair question. The answer? It ultimately boils down to a lack of female representation in the field. As we all know, representation matters. Barriers to entry have been holding women back since the start, whether it’s education or fighting against other people’s inherent biases. And yet, I’m not a fan of settling for inequity for any reason – especially not inertia. What can be done? Here are a few things to consider right now.
Recognize that diversity and inclusion aren’t just nice to have at a company; they’re fundamental to the bottom line.
Time and time again, it has been proven that companies with diverse leadership drive higher profits and innovation. McKinsey have found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Moreover, they also found that companies with more than 30% women executives were 48% more likely to outperform companies with the least gender diversity.
But despite this hard data – and there’s much more of it out there if you look – many tech companies still lag behind when elevating women into leadership roles. When women ask me what to look for in a prospective employer, I say that it’s about more than a company saying they’re committed to elevating women in tech. It’s important to look for actual signs that the organization is committed to the candidate’s growth and career path. How many women are in leadership? If the number isn’t where they want it to be, what are they doing about it? I would hazard a guess that if their leadership isn’t on board to make this right decision, there are likely a number of other bad decisions they’re making, too.
Find mentors and lead from the front.
Despite being a CEO, I know what it feels like to be a woman in a very male-dominated field. That’s a problem, because I’ve always been a big believer that you need to “see it to believe it.”
For me, it has been important to build relationships with women and other people who inspire me in my field. Mentorship and a supportive community are so important in enabling people to recognize their own abilities – especially for women in an industry where they might sometimes feel that they are out of their element. A rising tide lifts all boats as they say, and don’t forget that as a woman, one of the ways to empower women to leadership positions is by attaining one yourself.
Get the respect you deserve.
One of my first bosses once told me: “Manage your own P&L” (profit and loss document). Translation: Find an objective way to measure your performance so you won’t need to rely as much on someone’s opinion. With hard data demonstrating your achievements, it’s a lot easier to prove your worth as a business asset. And remember, you should never apologize for asserting yourself to get what you deserve.
A 2021 study from Boston Consulting Group and Heidrick & Struggles proves that ambition is not the problem. Their recent survey showed that 62% of women respondents were actively trying for a promotion. If this sounds like you, then it may be time to brush up that P&L and ask for it.
For any woman looking to build her career in technology, I’d encourage you to look for companies that understand that diversity drives innovation and the bottom line. Seek out inspiration and wisdom from an incredible network of allies. And never forget how important it is to use the power of data to quantify your value.