Women in IT

Tech companies not doing enough to retain female talent

Tech companies not doing enough to retain female talent

The lack of women in the tech profession is becoming an increasing serious issue. Earlier this year Google released figures which indicated that only thirty percent of their workforce was female, and four out of every five of their leadership roles were filled by men. Even US President Barack Obama has stressed his dis-satisfaction with the lack of gender diversity in science and technology.

The question then has to be asked – what are tech companies doing in order to retain their best female staff? The answer seems to be clear – not enough!

Some companies though are making plans to improve their gender imbalance:

  • In July, Pinterest announced their targets with regards to diversity among their workforce by 2016. Their CEO, Evan Sharp, said that in his opinion the majority of tech companies have made hardly any progress in increasing their female headcount, attributing this to the fact that ‘companies haven’t stated specific goals.’
  • Etsy – the online handmade marketplace – encouraged more women to go through Hacker School and then recruited those females who successfully completed the program. As a result, the female component of their tech team rose from six percent to thirty-one percent in two years.
  • At the University of California, in 2014 the number of men who enrolled in an ‘introduction to computer science’ course was lower than the number of women for the first time ever.

Despite these encouraging numbers, most women say they leave the tech sector because they feel unsupported and unfulfilled. In a recent survey conducted by Culture Amp, only fifty-five percent of women who were questioned said they saw themselves remaining at their current company for at least two years. Another survey – this time by the Center for Talent Innovation – showed that women were forty-five percent more likely to leave the tech industry within the next twelve months than their male counterparts.

To retain female employees, tech companies must learn to treat them differently to males. Males seem to be driven by success and salary, whereas for women it’s more about job satisfaction and a work-life balance.
There is also the salary gap to consider. Despite efforts from countless bodies, women are still paid less, on average, than men in identical or similar roles.

Once lost, never to return …

Another concern is that once a woman leaves the tech industry, they seldom return. A survey in 2014 by Textio asked over 700 women who had deserted the tech industry if they had plans to return. Almost ninety percent of them said they did not.

Efforts in encouraging more women into the tech industry are all well and good for short term success, but it is the culture prevalent within the industry that needs to change. It’s one that needs to learn how to support woman and respond to their specific employment requirements, and to encourage their growth as employees. Women also need to be encouraged to seek out leadership roles.

If the culture is not fixed, then women will simply continue to leak away from the tech industry, and a gender balance will never be obtained.

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