Synchroworks is honoured to provide critical IT infrastructure and data related support to the Canada-Ukraine Surgical Aid Program and their missions in Poland • LEARN MORE

Why are Women in Tech Lagging Behind?

Why are Women in Tech Lagging Behind?

Mar 10, 2022

Climbing the career ladder in tech is no easy feat. But for women in tech, the path to the top is that much more difficult.

How many of us believe that we live in a gender equal world? How many of us are oblivious to the challenges modern women still face in the workplace? The answer is probably more than most of us are willing to admit.

Thanks to gender bias, double standards, and workplace cultures, women continue to face challenges in the workplace on a daily basis. And when it comes to the tech industry, these issues are even more amplified – but why?

In honour of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, coming up on March 8, 2022, let’s explore and celebrate women in tech – from their history to the challenges they face to the irreplaceable value they bring to their teams and companies.

The history of women in tech

If we look back through history, we can clearly see how the numerous contributions of women have shaped our modern world. From Grace Hopper to Radia Perlman to Marian Croak (and so many more), the history of women in tech has formed the world we live in today. Despite this, the sad truth is that women’s many contributions to technology are often overlooked, forgotten, or overshadowed by male counterparts like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Stephen Hawking. Looking back at these names, which ones are you familiar with and which ones are you just hearing for the first time?

Despite the obstacles, female scientists and mathematicians have persisted in their efforts to make important contributions to science. And many have succeeded. In fact, many of the pioneers of early computer programming have been women.

Why aren’t there more women in tech today?

The answer to this is quite simple: less opportunity.

Even today, male domination in the tech industry persists. Have we ever stopped to ponder why this might be? There must be women out there who want to make contributions to the tech world – and who are trying.

The truth is that women are trying.  Many just aren’t succeeding.

A 2021 survey by JobsForHer found that only 30% of entry-level positions are allotted to women. An even lower 10% of managerial positions are allotted to women; this falls to a meager 1% for leadership level roles. This means that as a woman climbs higher up the career ladder, her chances of seizing these positions decreases.

The tech sector sadly lags behind the rest of the job market when it comes to hiring, promoting and supporting women.

Even in our seemingly advanced modern word, many of the top AI-dominated companies such as Apple, Amazon, Tencent, Microsoft and Google continue to hold men at the helm of their leadership. Plain and simple, it’s hard to climb the tech ladder as a woman. Female representation gets sparser the higher you climb up the ladder. Unfortunately, this holds true across most tech companies.

2021 State of Women in Tech: Workplace and Hiring Trends

26% of tech-related jobs are held by women.

39% of women perceive gender bias as a primary reason for not being granted a promotion.

66% of women report a lack of growth opportunities in their career.

Women are 22% more likely to experience “Imposter Syndrome” in the workplace – which refers to the overwhelming feeling of feeling out of place compared to colleagues.

Women in tech are twice as likely to be laid off compared to male counterparts.

The ongoing challenges faced by women in tech

2021 State of Women in Tech: Workplace and Hiring Trends

26% of tech-related jobs are held by women.

39% of women perceive gender bias as a primary reason for not being granted a promotion.

66% of women report a lack of growth opportunities in their career.

Women are 22% more likely to experience “Imposter Syndrome” in the workplace – which refers to the overwhelming feeling of feeling out of place compared to colleagues.

Women in tech are twice as likely to be laid off compared to male counterparts.

The ongoing challenges faced by women in tech

Women in tech and other industries are still battling significant biases and continue to remain underrepresented at all management levels. Unfortunately, it’s not just your technical skills and knowledge that are challenged when you are a woman in the workforce. Women are more likely to have their intelligence questioned and authority undermined. What’s more, women of colour or those of traditionally marginalized identities are even more likely to experience disrespectful behaviour and less opportunities for growth.

According to a 2019 Statista global survey, only 9.9% of women in tech say they face no challenges. The other 90.1%? Let’s see:

53.8% of women in tech have difficulty being taken seriously.

37.9% of women in tech experience a gender pay gap.

30.5% of women in tech have no female role models to look towards for guidance.

30.2% of women in tech face sexism in the workplace.

23.6% of women in tech lack diversity within their team/company.

Double standards

Regardless of a woman’s credentials, the people evaluating her – let’s say, for a job interview or during a performance review – are much more likely to find her lacking in some ineffable way than they would a man. This translates to double-standards for women in the workplace.

Women are far more likely to receive feedback about their personality, rather than their actual performance and skills. While women get reprimanded for displaying assertive behaviour, men are applauded for it. “You’re too abrasive” or “that was rude” are some criticisms women may hear when trying to voice their opinions in a meeting. So, for women, working hard and displaying confidence – both extremely desirable qualities of a good employee – can actually backfire?

Being talked over

Being talked over in meetings, or being outright ignored, is a common experience for women. Women are interrupted or spoken over approximately 50% of the time during work meetings. The culprits are typically men. A study from the University of California found that nearly 96% of interruptions were a result of men speaking over women. In addition, 38% of women claim to have experienced others taking credit for their ideas.

Being talked over reduces the possibilities of recognition and claiming original ideas. This has a negative impact on a woman’s career. Women are commonly talked over because men often feel they are entitled to speak first – and often get away with it. In professional settings, men tend to compete more during a conversation, whereas women prioritize listening, two-way communication, and less combative ways of discussing ideas. What ends up happening is women’s voices continue to be silenced while men are promoted.

Family life

How common is it for a man to get asked how he juggles his family life with his work obligations? Pretty rare. For women, on the other hand, questions regarding family life are still popping up in interviews and performance meetings. Research reveals that men and women can actually have significantly different experiences when interviewing for similar positions. While interviewers and employers read fathers as being stable and more committed to their work because they are trying to be ‘good providers,’ mothers are viewed as distracted or unreliable.

Why do we need women in tech?

Team Satisfaction

This probably comes as no surprise, but teams with female managers are more satisfied with their jobs. This is because female managers in similar positions compared to men are taking more consistent action to promote employee well-being. Checking in on team members, helping with workload management, and being more in-tune with burnout and work-life balance are things that women prioritize more than men. Women are stepping up to support their teams and are succeeding at it.  As a result, 43% of working Americans believe women create a safer and more respectful work environment than men; meanwhile, only 5% of working Americans believe men create a safe workplace.

Company Performance

Diversity in the workplace leads to better company performance. McKinsey research shows that gender-diverse companies outperform by 15% while ethnically diverse companies perform 35% better. The same report reveals that a diverse company leads to better customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and more decisive decision-making. Diversity also gives teams a competitive advantage, since diverse viewpoints lead to cutting edge ideas.

It’s clear that the benefits of having women in the workplace far outweigh any costs. So, what steps can companies take to promote gender diversity in the workplace?

How to hire and support more women in tech

Listen to what women want

It may be a slow journey, but things are getting better for women in the workplace. In order to continue this trend, companies need to start looking back at the challenges faced by women within their own walls and take steps to minimize these.

To make things easier, women in tech have spoken up about what it would take to encourage them to apply for or accept a position within a company. The most common request? Equal pay and benefits. About 64% of women report ‘equal pay and benefits’ is what they would like to receive from their ideal tech job. The second most important thing women ask for are ‘clear and well documented progression opportunities.’

Now that we know exactly what women in tech want, the question becomes – are these requests just too outlandish for the tech industry to accept?

As individuals, teams, small businesses, and large corporations, we all have the responsibility and power to change how we think about and act towards women in tech.

This Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, let’s continue to explore and celebrate women’s contributions to the tech industry and then let’s work together to #BreaktheBias.

Share on Social Media

Ready to get started? 

Learn more about what we can do for you in your industry.