The WomenTech global conference happened this Wednesday, 10th June 2020, and we learnt that women in tech are the leaders of our sustainable future.
That’s a fact; technology is changing our lives rapidly and continuously. However, who are the individuals behind this change? Who is shaping our new sustainable tech world? What if women are the grassroots of this change in tech?
Technology disrupts every aspect of our society: the way we consume, connect, work, and develop products. Technology improves our economy, but also our future. Over the past decade, several concerns have been raised concerning the sustainability of the tech industry. And by durability, we mean, the ecological side of it, also the inclusivity and diversity of the workforce, behind the growth of the tech industry.
Women in tech: the statistics
According to Eurostat, women in STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are still highly under-represented, with only 17 % holding a computing-related job, and 5 % in a leadership position. In the United States, women represent between 28 and 42 per cent of the workforce in GAFAM companies. According to a recent McKinsey report, the percentage of women in tech jobs has drastically decreased over the past 25 years, and the situation is even more drastic for women of colour.
Technology shall not be based on one gender’s perspective, as it shall represent everyone’s diverse needs while helping them to achieve their dreams. More females take over the tech industry to shape an inclusive, adaptable, and sustainable world. The conference demonstrated to us that women are powerful, think differently, and are passionate. They develop tech products that take on the significant challenges of this world.
“The number of women in AI is small, it is unbelievable. We are baking bias into the system by not having women sit at the table.”Melinda Gates
Sustainability and gender-equality lead by women in tech
Women in tech help to achieve the sustainable development goals established by the United Nations (i.e. gender equality, access to education). It also gives companies a sustainable competitive advantage while being uniquely creative. At Plan A, more than 55% of employees are women (from diverse backgrounds), alongside, holding a computing-related job. Thus, leadership positions are mainly held by females, which enables high innovation and challenging ideas. So, you may think, how is it beneficial?
“The world cannot offer to lose your talents.”António Gutteres – UN secretary general
It is proved that tech companies that have more women in leadership positions deliver better returns and outperform companies with less diverse teams. As a matter of fact, Fortune 500 companies, with at least three women in a leadership position, recognized an increase of 66 per cent in ROI. Furthermore, companies that manage to hire or retain female staff have a sustainable competitive advantage.
The BCG with Munich University (2017) conducted an empirical analysis that demonstrated the positive correlation between diversity and innovation. In fact, different perspectives and backgrounds contribute to change, but this relationship only works if more than 20 % of women are into management positions. Therefore, more women in tech are linked to innovation and performance.
Female role models to build a sustainable future
Let’s do a small test. Can you cite at least two female scientists? Or when you hear “software engineer,” do you picture a woman? It is key to be conscious of our own biases, limit prejudices did to women in the tech industry, and enable women empowerment. Males are considered the “right fit” to integrate the IT boys club, compared to their female counterparts.
More female roles in tech would mean more women to be inspired by their achievements, increasing the tech pool hiring ecosystem. Our world and leaders must ensure to celebrate women role models in STEM, so they can have a seat at the table and challenge men about gender equality.
Women in tech think differently, and it is reasonable to believe that ideas on the table are challenged. It enables teams to prepare better and anticipate alternative viewpoints. Both genders perceive challenges differently and bring unique ideas. When you bring to your company a diverse workplace (i.e. background, ethnicities), performance increases and new talents are more eager to join your team.
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Food for further thoughts: As we see more and larger tech companies coming from women and run by women, soon, the reality is that western companies still have a lot to learn from non-western industries and cultures, as the change is driven by South-East Asia, Latin America women-run IT companies. Hence, European and Northern American corporates may analyze what is happening from the other side of the globe and create a novel approach that is more women-inclusive.