EDITIONS
Opinion

Despite several milestones, why are women still underrepresented in tech and boardrooms?

Dr. Shameem S
13th Mar 2018
10+ Shares
  • Share Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • LinkedIn Icon
  • Reddit Icon
  • WhatsApp Icon
Share on

In general, though data shows diversity, including equal opportunity for women employees in leadership roles, only four percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

It is a well-known fact that the technology sector has massive gender gaps in employment. Well, this gap is certainly not due to education issues. Women occupy almost 40-50 percent of the workforce, and yet the tech field is dominated by male employees. Research shows that more the women in workforce greater will be the innovation and profitability. According to the survey by Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) in 2017, women in tech face a lot of barriers. The tops five barriers, the report states, are lack of mentors (48 percent), lack of female role models (42 percent), gender bias in the workplace (39 percent), unequal growth opportunities as compared to men (36 percent), and unequal pay for the same skills (35 percent).

A study on LinkedIn data of 50 major companies reveals that women, on an average, represent 24 percent of their workforce. Accenture also examined women’s representation on the boards of more than 500 Forbes Global 2000 companies. It found that female board members are far more likely to have professional tech experience than their male counterparts.

 

Source: The future Tech Workforce: Breaking Gender Barriers, ISACA, 2017

 

 

Need for mentors, equal pay

Women must be encouraged to pursue careers in technology. A good way to do that is to assign them mentors – male or female – who can instil confidence in them and make them effective and efficient. Women must have sound knowledge about the technological advancements and invasion of SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) in business happening in the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). The current technology leaders must value gender diversity and involve females as a part of the team. They must be given training before assigning the responsibility of technically challenging assignments.

Unequal pay remains the biggest challenge across globe. Twenty-nine percent of respondents of the ISACA 2017 survey reported that male employees tend to be paid more, without proper justification.

Glass ceiling is a metaphor used for the informal barriers that keep women from not reaching the ladder in terms of promotions, pay rises and career opportunities. Glass ceiling effect in India can be attributed not only to organisational politics but also to social conditions and family demands that have kept women from reaching board level growth.

In general, though data shows diversity, including equal opportunity for women employees in leadership roles, only four percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

On the flip side, we also have examples of a few women climbing the ladder of business growth, like PepsiCo’s chief Indra Nooyi. "If you are a woman and especially a person of colour, there are two strikes against you," Nooyi, 56, said at a lecture at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, a few years ago. "Immigrant, person of colour and woman - that is three strikes against you. So I have to work extra hard. More hours, yes. More sacrifices and trade-offs, yes. That has been my journey," she added.

One of the professors of a leading B School said that there are only 766 females out of 14,104 directors among 1,690 Clause 49 compliant Indian companies. Women in Leadership and KPMG conducted a survey among women executives and brought forth some interesting results. Women have different leadership styles and bring substantive diversity to company boards in terms of their composition, skill sets and experiences. Organisations must nurture the leadership qualities of their women executives and, by doing so, they may have better performance and financial results. Companies must encourage gender diversity initiatives and programmes to train women for leadership roles.

The solutions to these issues are not immediate. However, organisations can take steps to empower women employees, engage female role models, and assign mentors to encourage those entering technology and leadership roles. Therefore, organisations need to have better recruitment policies to have more women employees on board in technology roles. They must also provide better and suitable training, networking, and mentoring, fair compensation and growth opportunities for their current female employees. It is not just the responsibility of organisations to encourage women employees; it is also important for women as individuals to be self-motivated and grab opportunities in the technology frontier as well.

Overcoming gender imbalances for whatsoever reasons cannot happen overnight. It is the responsibility of all the involved stakeholders.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

10+ Shares
  • Share Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • LinkedIn Icon
  • Reddit Icon
  • WhatsApp Icon
Share on
Report an issue
Authors

Related Tags