The gender gap in tech is closing, with the latest figures showing that around 26% of tech professionals in the UK are women. However, there is still some way to go to reach gender balance in the IT sector. More companies are actively working on narrowing their gender gaps and many have dedicated teams looking at diversity & inclusion methods. In this article we look at the different ways to hire more women in tech in 2023.
The gender pay gap in tech is currently at 16% which is higher than the national average of 11.6%. This is one of the biggest barriers to closing the gender gap in IT, as women don’t think they can earn a fair salary compared to their male counterparts. Since gender pay gap reporting became law for companies of 250 or more employees, the gap has only reduced by 0.5%. Although reporting each year does place more accountability on large employers, it unfortunately isn’t a requirement for smaller companies.
The gender pay gap does not mean women are being paid less than men for doing the same job, as this is illegal. Instead, it suggests that women are in less senior positions than men, who dominate the executive board seats at most large companies.
By committing to equal pay for men & women, we can eliminate this barrier to women choosing tech as their career path. Whilst the gap exists, unfortunately recruiting more women in IT will prove difficult.
In order to close the gender pay gap, we need to look at how many women there are in senior roles in tech. Currently in the UK, just 22% of tech directors are women. The IT industry is noticeably lagging behind the rest of the economy, where 29% of directors are women. This is most likely due to the historic overall male dominance in the sector, however a lack of women in higher positions leaves us with less strong role models paving the way for future girls.
Women in tech are less likely than men to receive promotions early on in their careers, and unfortunately as a result 56% of women are leaving IT 10-20 years into their careers – this is double the rate of men. Of course, partly this is due to women giving birth and leaving their career to look after their children. However, often the consensus is that men are chosen over women when put up for promotions due to beliefs that they will be leaving to have children. This is an archaic way of thinking – many women do not have a long career break when having children now, and at the same time, many women choose not to have children at all. This is known as the motherhood penalty – a term to describe socioeconomic disadvantages in earnings and perceived competence of working mums. Barriers like this are a huge issue in tech, and by promoting more females into senior manager roles, we can create more role models and raise the profile of women in tech.
Returnships are a type of high-level internship which can last anywhere between 10 weeks and 6 months. They’re designed to help people get back into a job after a career break, often offered to women after having children. Returnships aim to re-build skills and confidence to reduce the risk of people leaving their jobs. They offer a structured return to work, helping the employee get up to speed with any market changes which have occurred in their absence, and supporting them through any difficulties they might face. The first returnship was coined in 2008 by Goldman Sachs. There are now thought to be more than 160 companies who offer return-to-work programmes, and the majority of people who take part are women. By offering a returnship programme, tech companies can enjoy the benefits including gaining highly-skilled individuals and assessing their sustainability for a permanent role without committing to it.
Mentorship programmes are also a fantastic way of supporting employees in their tech careers. Not just for women, mentor schemes pair up a mentee with a senior member of staff as a mentor. They can be structured with regular meetings and content, or just simply providing someone with a resource to ask questions or advice. The benefits of a mentorship are not only with the mentee, as the mentor can gain a different perspective on things and often gain new ideas and a fresh approach. For women in tech, having a mentor has been found to help in mid-career points when women often leave. The schemes can refocus their minds and give them new skills to build in to progress in their careers.
With the job market being so competitive in nature, employers should be thinking very carefully about the benefits and incentives they offer to potential candidates. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, our priorities in a job have changed, and work-life balance has been made much more important. People place more importance on having time at home, and so things like flexible working and remote policies are being valued above other company benefits.
Women in particular place different values on benefits to men. In our recent Women in Tech survey, the women we asked rated flexible working as the top benefit which would attract them to a job. This was followed by remote working, training within the company and above-average annual leave allowance. Another survey suggested that men look for things like competitive base salary and high future earnings before flexible working. So it’s a good idea to consider which benefits and incentives you list when trying to hire more women in tech.
As well as flexible working, there are other policies and incentives which women rate highly when looking for a job. These include:
Hiring more women in tech is a good goal to have, but what tools can you use to help make this happen? The first step is to consider what you’re advertising in your employer brand. It’s been found by LinkedIn that on average, women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men do. So, it’s harder to get their attention and they’re usually a lot more picky. Women have been found to do more research on a company when they’re job seeking, so having plenty of information available on your careers website. In our recent survey, we found that 84% of women are more drawn to company if they openly talk about being diverse and inclusive. Consider adding a diversity & inclusion section of your careers page and shout about your initiatives. You can also partner with us and have an employer profile which gives you a space to communicate how you support women in tech.
It’s also key to think about where you’re advertising your job roles. The way we look for jobs has changed, and more and more people are looking for niche job boards for their particular skill set or chosen industry. Women in Tech jobs is a board full of jobs from dedicated employers looking to improve their gender diversity. Consider advertising in different spaces to expand your talent pool and reach more women.
There are many things we can do to improve gender diversity and hire more women in tech. In order to be diverse employers need to take actions and make changes to ensure they are fostering an inclusive workplace. And when they have recruited more women, it’s key to know that the hard work doesn’t stop there. It’s also key to ensure you have a solid plan of how to retain the women you have hired and support them through their career development.