Gender inequality in tech is holding businesses back

If nothing else, more women in technology would have financial benefit for organizations. Yet the current stats aren't good enough.
8 March 2023
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

There’s no better time to talk about women in technology. For all the advances women have made, we need to be reminded of how to go further, and why we should. A report published by the Economic Times shows that in the technology sector, 71% of women said they don’t have enough women leaders, compared to 53% of non-tech responses.

The findings come from an annual survey by The Star in Me, a career advancement platform for women and diversity partner to several organizations globally. With over 400 respondents, the report found that 62% of women don’t have equal opportunities for career growth as the men in their organization.

Cofounder of The Star in Me, Mahua Mukherjee, said that “while organizations do their part in building diverse leadership teams and inclusive cultures, it is important for women to take charge of their careers and steer them towards their professional goals. Women should never hesitate to speak up and ask for what they need.” This is easier said than done, and in a sector so dominated by men, there’s as much responsibility on those men to uplift the voices of the (few) women around them.

Following layoffs in the technology sector, women professionals are shifting to freelance work to build their careers. Between April and December 2022, there was a 3x increase in the number of women consultants registering for white-collar gig roles from the technology sector, while the total number of women consultants stayed stable, according to white-collar gig platform FlexingIt.

Other research shows that 77% of tech director roles are filled by men, and Tech Nation stats revealed that only 19% of the workforce are women. However, part of reducing the gender gap in technology expertise is stopping the comparison between male and female workers. Instead, women in STEM role models will encourage a diverse workforce.

Women in technology beneficial for all

There’s a real business case for women in tech (despite the fact that one shouldn’t have to be made). Studies have shown that companies with more female leaders perform better commercially and are more innovative. Women also score higher than men in terms of leadership qualities.

There’s also no business case for have so many men in leadership positions. Because so many are accustomed to leadership being male, or at least masculine, and because being accustomed to privilege makes equality feel oppressive, it’s become necessary for scientific research that proves women’s ability to lead.

Forbes gives the following summaries of some “salient studies” on the impact of increased gender diversity:

  • For the benefits of women leaders to occur, critical mass is needed; studies show that without at least 30% female representation, a business won’t see a significant boost as a result of senior female leaders. It also seems that high-performing firms are much more likely to benefit from higher female representation, as this analysis of 3,000 US firms between 2007-2014 shows.
  • The same studies that show women improve performance also report that women earn significantly less than men. There’s evidence of the weak connection between merit and compensation, especially across genders.
  • Not only do women leaders improve performance metrics, they reduce risk to firm performance (for example, reducing the likelihood of lawsuits, reputational scandals, and corporate crime), and improve CSR and ESG (by decreasing the chance of environmental infringements). The Economist recently reported that women tend to be less corrupt and more moral than men, saving costs by doing ‘the right thing.’

Ultimately, even if you couldn’t care less about IWD, or gender diversity and equality, there’s money in women’s potential. Let’s stop worrying about uplifting female voices and just hire the best person for the job. In pure business terms, that’s most likely to be a woman.