1. What do you think can be done to attract more women to tech jobs?
There are immediate actions companies can take in order to better attract women to their posts.
- Leverage the existing networking groups and web portals supporting women in technology businesses;
- Highlight the career paths of other successful professionals in your organisation – shine a light on the female heroes in tech;
- Recruit from other sectors, showcase how women can apply their business/design/communications (etc…) skills to a new vertical in technology;
- Showcase the full range of professional and creative benefits of the job; and
- Make a concerted effort to articulate the importance of and demand for a diverse talent pool.
In the long run we need to start early encouraging girls into STEM subjects – from buying toys such as Goldie Box, a reading-based game that cultivates a passion for technical engineering, to integrating programming into early education. Coding should be considered as fundamental a skill as literacy, language and the arts.
2. What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the tech sector?
The issues are complex and sometimes subtle. In four words: corporate sponsorship, confidence, collaboration and culture.
Some of the catalysts of change are organisational in nature, for example, conscientious recruiting, professional development programmes including technical and business skills training, and setting policies to force diversity of thought in leadership team, such as term limits on board service times.
However, there are also social and cultural issues to address. It would be helpful if both men and women could continue to actively call out the stereotypes and biases women encounter in the professional environment. we can continue to develop an advocating and supportive tech sisterhood and connect the various initiatives across London. And we can also work on our own self-confidence to “lean in” to be part of the conversations we are experts in and passionate about.
3. Do you believe that technology is still a male dominated field?
There is no question about that. Our hackathons and accelerators and big industry events, are still dramatically underrepresented by women. Even though at Level39 we clock in at higher than industry standards of participation, we still need to do everything we can to reach out to the female coders and entrepreneurs in our sector to make use of our space and supportive startup ecosystem.
4. What could companies be doing to help reverse the shortage of females in the profession?
Companies need to take a top-down and cross-departmental approach, with strong policy changes and professional development initiatives – the disparities are just too great to only make incremental changes, which would take generations to correct. Senior executives could focus on promoting and advocating for their top female talent, creating role models for more junior women both already within the organisation and to be hired externally.
The leadership need to think about female board representation, and setting some public targets (such as the 30 per cent Club, whose goal is to achieve 30 per cent women on FTSE-100 boards by the end 2015). The tech industry should also hear this call to action.
5. What is your view about the gender gap within technology?
Technology is the fastest paced industry and a big gap we see is in the lack of women emerging and succeeding from startups to scale-ups. Encouraging women into the path of entrepreneurship and then cultivating a resilience to adversity along that path will help to address this issue of women in tech, from the bottom-up. Want to help with the gender gap in tech firms?
Join a startup, take a coding class, attend a hackathon, and launch your own idea into the marketplace – there are champions out there for you and there are women who are passionate about technology to join your company. Level39 is one of those platforms for opportunity.
6. How could tech companies benefit from more female staff and board members?
Leaving aside the quantities of research on how diversity on boards improves company financial performance, I believe a diverse product team also produces better technology. As we imagine the digital world and the products we will incorporate into almost every facet of our lives, a woman’s perspective is vital. How Women, and minorities, feel about the design, interface, usability, marketing and utility of a product, will have a direct impact on the size and sustainability of the marketplace.
Women need to be involved in the building of the products we will in turn come to adopt and love, which will in turn affect the financial performance of firm in the long run. We all want to use things we can relate to, and which help us relate to the world.
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