This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) is #BalanceforBetter. The campaign runs all year long and aims to reinforce the need for gender-balanced communities and organizations. Gender balance is essential in the boardroom, government, media, sports, science, and technology.
Computer technology is an especially male-dominated industry. In fact, recent studies show that only 25% of IT jobs are held by women, and worse yet, only 5% of tech startups are owned by women.
In honor of IWD 2019, I asked the women of Zivtech to share their own experiences working in tech. I also asked them to share their thoughts on how we can strive toward a gender-balanced tech industry.
Their responses were honest, impactful, and insightful.
Jody is one of Zivtech’s co-founders and our CTO. As such, she works both in business and in tech, and she stated feeling much more outnumbered in the business world than in tech.
“In the open source community, I have managed to surround myself with progressive individuals who fully grasp that men and women have the same brains and should be treated equally. But I find the world of agency owners to be extremely male-dominated and threatened by the presence of women in an equal role. I tend to avoid business events or any situation where I'm going to have to 'prove' myself before I'm respected simply because of my gender.”
She went on to say that she often wonders what her career would be like if she were male, and that she believes that “the more a woman 'succeeds' in male-dominated fields, the more she's actually probably being held back. There aren't really any 'success stories' within systematic oppression.”
When asked why she thinks there is such a large gender disparity in tech she said that it’s because women are often “disrespected, ignored, talked over, and underestimated,” which leads them to drop out of tech completely.
Jody believes that we can improve the gender balance “by pushing sexists out of the workforce and not tolerating toxic individuals on teams.”
In addition to not tolerating toxic individuals on teams, Kyle believes that we can begin to close the gender gap in tech by encouraging hiring managers to “seek out underrepresented employees to strengthen diversity in the workplace.” But the onus doesn’t just fall on the hiring manager, Kyle says that “once a candidate is hired, it’s up to everyone at the company to support and help retain those employees.”
“In my opinion, men and women both have different but important work to do in recalibrating the gender imbalance in tech. Men should reflect on their communication styles and examine whether their behavior changes depending on how someone’s gender is presented.”
As an office manager, Kyle noted that she has always felt like she floats on the periphery of working in tech since she doesn’t have a "technical" role. She says, “From the outside looking in, being a woman in tech seems rewarding, challenging, and utterly exhausting.”
Although at times being a woman in tech can be challenging, our Senior Digital Project Manager, Molly, believes it’s empowering. “I feel proud when I tell people I work in tech. Some of the smartest people I've worked with in tech have been women, so it has inspired me to challenge myself!”
When asked what we can do to strive toward a gender-balanced tech industry, Molly suggests that we can begin by “fostering positive relationships based on professionalism and mutual respect.”
Our other Senior Project Manager, Jessica, thinks that we can create a gender-balanced tech industry by getting “more women interested in computer science at a younger age.” She also believes that employers should “make a conscious effort to recruit more women...and pay them fairly.”
As a woman working in tech, Jessica says that “knowledge is power – strive to learn as much as you can and take advantage of community resources.” She also encourages women to call out gender discrimination when they see it and to be a good ally.
Rounding out the women in our office, we have our Junior UI/UX Designer, Kaci. Kaci thinks we can move towards a more balanced tech industry “if everyone pushes for equal pay and representation.” She continues, “I think creating programs and initiatives to encourage and support women joining the [tech] industry would also help.”
When asked what it’s like to be a working woman in tech, Kaci’s response was positive and optimistic. “It’s fun! I enjoy the fast pace and how innovative technology is always coming out. I feel like I learn something new constantly with how the industry works. It’s a little disappointing whenever I see another company’s leadership or employee roster filled with predominantly men. I think Zivtech has a good balance; I never feel like I’m at a disadvantage because I’m a woman.”
Gender balance is important in any industry, but especially those that are dominated by men. When we strike a gender balance, companies and organizations instantly become more dynamic and diverse. Gender equality leverages the strengths of men and women and enhances the overall workplace culture.
For International Women’s Day 2019, we ask you to join us in striking a #BalanceForBetter!
Are you a woman in tech? Let us know how you think we can strive for a more gender-balanced tech industry in the comments below.