March 8 — Today marks International Women’s Day, a global day dedicated to celebrating the social, political and economic achievements of women. This year, the theme for the day is #BreakTheBias, which aims to convey that deliberate or unconscious biases make it difficult for women to move ahead.
Previously, campaigns centered around equal wages and crackdowns on harassment; the focus has pivoted to facing ingrained discriminatory practices throughout the workplace.
Women in tech: Statistics
Women are still significantly underrepresented in the tech space, especially within the C-suite and in boardrooms. In the UK, only 15% of employees in STEM roles are women, according to PwC. Research in the US shows that women hold only 20% of all technology roles.
When asked about career preferences, only 3% of women listed a technology-based career as their first choice. This was attributed to both lack of information about technology roles and an absence of role models within the industry.
Women are also less likely to apply for jobs if they are missing one or two of the qualifications outlined in the job posting, as compared with men. To account for this and for overall diversity in backgrounds and experiences, some companies have actively begun to encourage candidates to apply for jobs even if they do not meet every single qualification.
How organizations can #BreakTheBias
- Drive outcomes with data. Companies that leveraged data to track career development, skills gaps and development needs can help accelerate women’s advancement while simultaneously preparing women for managerial and leadership roles. In addition, organizations may wish to examine data around pay parity, talent acquisition, and workforce retention to then create policies that will lead to better outcomes for women.
- Flexible job training. One way to support women (and men) who are parents is to implement flexible training sessions, where information is delivered virtually and in agile, microlearning units. This enables both women and men to pursue training in accordance with their scheduling needs, and to potentially retain more knowledge then they might in a single, multi-hour, in-person training course.
- Ensure that all employees are heard. According to Forbes, “one of the most important” ways to empower women is by ensuring that their opinions are heard and leveraged for policy development purposes.
Organizations sometimes make assumptions regarding what women need or want within their careers, but experts state that unconscious biases can inhibit genuine progress. Ask employees about what they want and need in their careers by increasing surveying, and dialogue.
For more information about International Women’s Day, ABC News.