HR biases, gendered job adverts, low pay cheques, lack of flexible hours, and other factors deter participation of women in the tech workforce.
While ‘women in tech’ has emerged as a popular hashtag on social media, ground realities leave a lot to be desired.
A recent survey by HackerEarth (a provider of enterprise software and talent assessment solutions) found that women technologists constitute less than two percent of leadership roles across the world.
In a report titled Women in Tech 2018: Breaking Gender Barriers, HackerEarth reveals that only a third of tech teams are made up of women, and this is a result of age-old biases in hiring, gendered job descriptions, lower pay, lack of flexible work hours, absence of family-friendly policies, and more.
Even ethnicities influence hiring, with women belonging to ethnic minorities, such as Hispanics and African-Americans, finding it more challenging to get jobs in tech.
HackerEarth surveyed over 1,200 women developers in various technology companies across 35 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America. Even though 86 percent of the respondents held a formal degree in computer science, most of them believed that the system is unfair and recruiter biases prevail.
And even when women manage to enter the organisation, their careers stagnate beyond a point, with very few reaching the C-suite.
Vivek Prakash, CTO and Co-Founder, HackerEarth stated,
“While the number of women graduating in CS has been on a steady rise, when it comes to career growth, the numbers are staggeringly low.”
The rate of attrition among women technologists across roles — product designers, QA developers, system admins, engineering managers, etc. — is very high. Their average tenure is less than two years, and only 5.3 percent stay at the same organisation for longer than eight years.
Almost 63 percent of the women surveyed said they would move to a different job for a higher pay cheque, and nearly half of them would go if the new employer offered flexible work timings.
“Implementing policies to support women in the workplace and providing them with training and resources will help reduce the high attrition rates we have observed amongst women technologists.”
When it comes to job descriptions too, companies are not doing much to encourage female applicants. Nearly half the women admitted to not having applied for a role because the job advertisements had gendered wording. In fact, two-thirds of the women reckoned that “blind recruitments” could improve hiring of women in tech.
A systemic problem
Who will set a precedent, especially when giant tech companies are themselves accused of nurturing gender bias?
Take Google, for instance. A 2017 Google Diversity Report shows that only one-fifth of Google's tech workforce is made up of women. And when it comes to overall workforce, less than a third (31 percent) is female.
Interestingly, non-tech roles at Google see a more balanced (48:52) gender representation, thus reinforcing stereotypes that women are more suited for ‘softer’, people-oriented roles like HR, marketing, communication, CSR, and so on as opposed to more ‘technical’ jobs like coding, QA, product development, etc.
In April 2017, the US Department of Labor accused Google of “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” The DoL stated that it had received “compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women” in the most common positions at the company. Google, however, denied allegations of gender pay gap.