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3 ways to close the gender gap in tech

From Ada Lovelace to Sheryl Sandberg, women have always been essential to the advancement of tech. As Chief Leadership Officer at Women Who Code, Joey Rosenberg works to inspire, empower, and connect women in the tech industry so they can continue having opportunities to make an impact.

On the Decoded podcast, Rosenberg discussed the importance of women having an equal role in building the tech products we all use for work, play, and life.

“Tech is shaping our world. The world is starting to understand that when the people whose lives and worlds are being shaped by tech aren’t part of the process of building those products, there can be intended or unintended harm created.”

She said.

More women in tech can result in products that genuinely reflect the needs and desires of the world’s population — women and men alike. This is a benefit not only for users, but for tech companies’ bottom lines. However, women continue to struggle to achieve equal representation in the tech industry. From the C-suite to entry-level developer roles, it’s difficult for women to achieve the same kind of success as their male counterparts.

“I hear from women all the time that they don’t see themselves represented in top leadership, they don’t see a pathway for themselves, they don’t feel supported, so they leave.” 

Building a culture of inclusion

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 47% of the workforce, but just 20.3% of computer programmer positions. In addition, women make up only 18% of CIO/CTO roles, according to a survey by the consultancy Korn Ferry.

In large part, Rosenberg believes the lack of women in tech is a matter of culture.

“We talk to companies all the time that say, ‘We have an engineering team of 99 men. I want to make sure my 100th hire isn’t another man.’ And I always wonder, ‘What were you thinking when you hired your second or third or fourth engineer? How did you get to this space?’”

To solve these issues, employers can’t just bring a woman in to fill a quota, but must look at their entire culture from top to bottom to make sure the workplace is equally inviting for all genders.

Increasing gender equality in the tech workplace

For an industry that prides itself on innovation, the tech industry can be wildly outdated when it comes to building a workplace that is more inclusive for women. By innovating their hiring and management processes, employers can design a work environment that attracts and retains more women developers and technical leaders for the benefit of all.

Here are a few ways employers can build a workplace with women developers in mind:

  • Start with your recruitment practices. The way job descriptions are written can impact your candidate pool. “When I talk to women engineers around the world, they’ll often tell me they don’t think they’re qualified for jobs. But when I talk to the recruiter, they’re begging for these people to apply,” said Rosenberg. If people don’t believe they have a shot at getting a job, they won’t apply. Eliminate biases in the way job descriptions are written, candidates are selected, and interviews are conducted to improve your candidate pool.
  • Set women up for success. Research shows a phenomenon called the glass cliff, which demonstrates that women are often chosen for projects or leadership positions that have an increased chance for failure. Ensure that everyone on your team — women and men — are allocated projects and promotions on an equal basis instead of saving the most difficult or failure-prone projects for women.
  • Provide transparency. Pay discrimination is illegal. Despite that, women continue to be paid significantly less than their male counterparts. According to research by Hired, there is a 3% wage gap in tech, which can translate to thousands in lost income per year, while 60% of the time men are offered more for the same role at the same company. To combat pay discrepancies, provide salary transparency in job descriptions up-front so that the chosen candidate gets paid the same wage no matter who gets the job. Pay audits can also help you analyze salaries across teams, departments, and business units to ensure that people doing the same work are being paid the same rate.

Check out this week’s Decoded podcast to hear more from Joey Rosenberg about her career and her advice for closing tech’s gender gap. Listen to the episode, and subscribe to the series today.