IWD 2024: Eradicating Industry Bias and Elevating Women

For International Women’s Day 2024, hear from experts at GoTo, Intellias and Lynx about how businesses can support women across the technology industry

When it comes to the wider technology sector, what is clear is lacking female voices in designing critical infrastructure.

Statistics highlight that there are only about 20% of women in engineering, which lowers to almost 10% in some areas of the sector. As a result, there have been calls for businesses to close their skills gaps to promote a more diverse workforce. These equalities can ultimately contribute to a more resilient and future-proof workforce.

It is essential that, rather than just paying lip service, companies are doing their best to elevate women across technology enterprises and allow them to reach leadership roles.

Going ‘beyond advocacy’ to tackle gender bias

Historically, women have not been as able to progress within technology job roles.

The technology sector is still a very male-dominated field, with women only accounting for 26% of the workforce worldwide. Likewise, according to the World Economic Forum, only 22% of AI professionals are women.

Besides sexism and gender stereotypes being perpetuated throughout the technology industry, it can also be difficult to combine the career with motherhood. In fact, according to a study reported by Fortune, 85% of women surveyed who have left the technology industry cited their organisation’s maternity leave policy as one of the key reasons impacting their decision to leave.

Jen Brown, Senior Director, International at GoTo, says: “One obvious starting point to supporting women in tech is to tackle the mentality that they are welcome in business, as long as they act like men. This is particularly challenging for working mothers, with almost 50% providing 45 hours of unpaid childcare a week, on top of their day-to-day job. 

“The industry should recognise that having different needs is part of being human, so I'd urge companies to be accommodating of unique differences and requirements. After all, the promotion of diverse talent can only yield positive outcomes for individuals and organisations.”

International Women’s Day acts as a reminder that there can only be benefits to businesses creating an environment of equality and equal opportunity. 

Within the data centre industry in particular, the presence of women - particularly in leadership roles - remains low. As the industry continues to be dominated by men, a lack of diversity could lead to long-lasting implications that include limiting innovation and missing out on opportunities to expand digital capabilities and digital infrastructure.

As the development of AI and 6G continues to expand rapidly around the world, a wide range of diverse perspectives will be beneficial in order to leverage these technologies for all.

Alyssa Iyer, Head of Product – AML at Lynx tells Data Centre Magazine: “As we celebrate International Women's Day, let's challenge the status quo in Tech by promoting inclusivity and empowerment for women. Organisations must go beyond mere advocacy to foster a culture where women thrive. 

“Gender bias remains a significant hurdle to professional progress. Eliminating stereotypes, like being asked to take notes despite seniority, is crucial.”

She continues: “In the tech sector, supporting women shouldn't be lip service but a daily commitment. From battling gender biases to ensuring equal opportunities, these actions collectively empower women. 

“While tackling the gender pay gap is crucial, as is recognising the added challenges and disparities women of colour encounter, what is key is rectifying this imbalance. Building an inclusive ecosystem where women excel is a shared responsibility.”

Diversifying the workforce starts from within

According to Tech UK, one of the driving forces behind the increasing presence of women in data centres is their growing expertise in relevant fields. Women can also serve as role models and mentors for the next generation of female professionals, inspiring young women to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Businesses within the technology sector are starting to introduce training programmes and initiatives designed to get more women into STEM careers. In particular, Microsoft is introducing a ‘Code Without Barriers’ programme that plans to upskill 75,000 women in advanced skills like cloud computing and AI.

Having partnered with Accenture and HCL Technologies, it aims to help women succeed in technology jobs, ensuring they are supported to advance their careers.

Viktoriya Tsytsak, Senior Director, Head of CEO Office at Intellias, says: “Despite the progress that’s been made, gender bias and stereotypes continue to pose challenges for women in both education and the workplace.

“The first step is to focus on the development of strategic thinking while navigating complex challenges and driving innovation in tech-related industries. Women leaders who excel in strategic thinking can effectively contribute to and shape the direction of their organisations, leading them to sustainable growth and success. The second is building high-performing teams, especially in tech, where collaboration and innovation are paramount. 

She adds: “Women's economic empowerment is important to unlocking the full potential of female talent and creativity. Lifelong learning and professional development play a significant role in this empowerment process.

“When women are economically empowered through learning opportunities and professional development, it contributes to better engagement at the workplace and more diversity and inclusion.” 

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