What would a woman in tech do about the gender gap?

8 months ago admin Comments Off on What would a woman in tech do about the gender gap?

The tech industry has done a lot of soul- and talent-searching in recent years to try and improve upon its dismal track record of hiring and promoting women.

According to a McKinsey & Co. study, “only 37% of workers in entry-level positions are female… and women make up only 19% of tech senior vice presidents and 15% of CEOs.” Findings like those have many of the male-dominated boards and leadership teams at tech companies asking, “What should we do?”

My answer? Let’s ask the women of the tech world. Clearly, women CIOs, CTOs and chief digital officers (CDO) who have made it to the top have some valuable insight into reaching the IT industry’s highest levels as a woman. But would they each share similar insights and tips, or would their experiences and ideas vary widely? To find out, I posed this simple question to women IT leaders from around the globe:

What advice would you give to businesses looking to groom more women for the C-suite and to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles?

In their candid responses, shared below, it was easy to find consistent themes.  If you want more women entering and advancing in technology, you need to do three things:

You can’t alter the makeup of your leadership team and workforce without change. Despite that inarguable fact, many tech businesses are hoping to change their gender balances while clinging to traditional workforce models and constructs for hiring, training and promoting.

Here’s what the women tech leaders advise. 

— Jessie Adcock, CTO, City of Vancouver,
Vancouver, Canada

— Rebekah Horne, chief digital and information officer,
National Rugby League,
Sydney Australia

Is changing the current makeup of the IT workforce everyone’s job? Yes and no. Everyone can play a role, but the talent acquisition experts and business leaders need to step up their game to ensure their foundational work is outstanding. Without topnotch workforce planning, development plans and career pathways, a business won’t be able to recruit and retain strong talent of any gender. 

— Vicki Miller, GAICD, 
director, Springboard and Co.,
Melbourne, Australia

— Rebekah Horne, chief digital and information officer,
National Rugby League,
Sydney Australia

No one makes it to the top on her own, but decades of boys club behavior driving hiring and investing across Silicon Valley has made it unquestionably harder for women technologists and entrepreneurs to get noticed and supported. To make up for women’s lost time and lack of access to senior leadership circles, businesses need to be proactive about mentoring and grooming female talent for leadership.

— Debra C. Robinson, CTO,
Hearst Magazines

— Rachel Glickman, CDO,
Playbill

Optimism about the future

With lots of advice to give, you might imagine these tech leaders would be less than optimistic about what the future holds for women and diversity in IT. But that wasn’t the case. These leaders see progress ahead and I will conclude with one leader’s hopeful outlook for more diversity ahead:

— Catherine Devine, CDO,
American Museum of Natural History, New York

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