Guest article from singlemindconsulting.com
I look around the office and see an ocean of males. I see one woman in the office. She is our bookkeeper. As a web development company, we currently have zero software developers that are women. This was a shocking finding; yet not so shocking simultaneously. We’ve had female software developers in the past, but, as of now, none are in sight. I knew that female software developers were few and far between but hadn’t paid attention to what was right in front of me. I’ve worked in tech for 8+ years and very few of the many software developers that I have worked with have been female.
The overall message about women in tech was clear. More female techies need to be hired. And not only in our company but throughout Silicon Valley and beyond. If the future is technology, where does the voice of women fit into that future if they aren’t included?
While women in tech are rare, women bring a fresh and different perspective to product design and development that men are unable to. This perspective is not only due to physiology (although that does help), but also through the distinct experiences that men don’t have due to how society perceives and treats men compared to women.
We are creating bias in our technology by having it be male-led. Women need to be involved in tech now in order to help define what tech will look like tomorrow. We are well behind in terms of women working on artificial intelligence (one of the main driving forces in today’s technologies) and this needs to be ramped up in order for greater diversity to be incorporated in future technologies.
So what’s the solution…
Tech leaders first must see the benefit of hiring women (even those without experience) over men in tech. Once they identify the benefits, tech leaders must consider what they can do to help women get the experience they need to succeed in the field of technology. They need to understand that the equality of women in tech begins with hiring practices. While education can only do so much, jobs (specifically internships) help people build their resumes and validate their skills so that employers can identify them as potential hires in the future. Without validated skills, people can’t get jobs.
From product management to UX design, marketing, architecture, and more, there are many fields in tech that can benefit from the female perspective. We need to overcome the stereotype that the tech industry is male-dominated. We can’t think that because things aren’t currently equal that they can’t be equal in the future. We need to collectively believe that women can be just as good (if not better) at hardware and software development as men, because, the truth is, they are.
Change is possible and it starts with those strong enough to vocalize the inequalities that they see and fight for change. It is ultimately about awareness. Be aware in your communities and your workplace by identifying stereotypes and inequalities as they are. Once awareness is established, put in the effort to help make a change and bring about equality by use of your voice and your time. All to say, I plan to make a shift in my hiring practices to account for these long-standing inequalities and, furthermore, implore other hiring managers (in and out of tech) to champion equality in their own businesses.