Being at the cutting edge is not enough – it is time for IT to eliminate its gender bias

By Urszula Sankowska, Founder of MIM Solutions and Co-CEO of MIM Fertility, , Member of SoDA.

  • 11 months ago Posted in

The historical inequalities between men and women across the IT industry is a legacy which continues to hamper the potential of both the industry and female IT professionals. But with the attitude tide slowly turning, what does the IT industry look like in the future for female professionals?

It is important to stress that this form of change which has been imbedded across society and industry for so long, cannot occur overnight. Yes, progression is underway, but the journey ahead is a long one to achieve equality within IT.

Empowerment is a two-way street

Without doubt, the IT industry must do more to promote women across its sectors and professions. It is important for women in tech to remember the role they can play, having the right ecosystem on the company’s side is the first step. But women must unite, champion one another’s talents to further develop their skillsets for a successful career in IT.

Without workplace unity, female professionals who may have doubts about their career choices could fall through the cracks and ultimately decide a career in IT is not suited for them. A workplace where its female workers come together and celebrate one another could be the difference for those who may be having doubts. If women feel a part of a familiar team and witness first-hand the achievements being made by their female counterparts, then they are more likely to feel better connected and less polarised whilst working in IT.

Greater support required

To reduce the gender disparity across the IT industry, the issue must be addressed at education level. Encouraging girls to pursue STEM topics and creating a gender balance on these courses in the early stages will send out the right signals. If either a STEM course or IT employer is overwhelmingly male dominated, this could promote doubt. Questions such as do I belong here? or have I made the right choice? – could begin to develop. By

addressing the gender imbalance at school, more females will successfully navigate their courses and early careers if surrounded by a community of like-minded women.

Promoting young women into STEM education will pay off once they enter the IT workforce. Greater numbers of balanced and gender diverse workplaces will appear as the longstanding grassroot issue of male-dominated STEM education is addressed.

For too long, gender stereotyped job roles have influenced a lot of young women to choose alternative career paths away from IT. Moving forward, more young women who show an interest in the industry should be encouraged to explore this path, rather than discouraged by the system.

Barriers on the progression path

For IT professionals, the decision to start a family has impacted females far greater than their male colleagues.

IT employers may offer a healthy amount of maternity leave for their workers, but often issues arise once the mother has returned to work. Workload is often an overlooked issue for women following maternity leave. Sitting down and creating a tailored workload for new mothers is an effective way in assessing how much work they can take on. Failing to listen to female employees following maternity could result in overloading them with work which then leads to greater stress and discontent within the role.

By taking this tailored approach, more young women will look at the IT industry as a more progressive industry compared to years gone by. If women are aware that IT company’s do not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to complex situations such as mothers returning to work, then they will no longer feel as alienated from the workforce.

Work to be done but progress can be seen

Without doubt, over the past few decades, progress has been made but albeit not quick enough. Changing attitudes across IT professionals, coupled with a progressive outlook from a younger generation who expect balanced opportunity regardless of gender has provided the platform for faster progress to be made in the next decade.

Promoting women in tech and eliminating rigid gender-bias workplace policies will prove vital turning points in the journey to ensure the IT industry can be considered an inclusive place to work, regardless of gender. Achieving inclusivity across the industry will propel it even further with the help of female knowledge and expertise – paving the way for future generations of young women to look to tech as a welcoming career pathway in contrast to years gone by.

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