Redefining Tech, Breaking Barriers for Women

April 9, 2024 | What's Hot | 8 min read

Diversity in the tech industry is not just a metric to aim for; it's a crucial component of innovative and competitive performance.

A diverse team brings a variety of perspectives, problem-solving approaches, and creative ideas, all of which are essential for driving technological advancements and solutions across an organization. And – increasing the representation of women in tech is particularly important, as it adds valuable insights and skills to the industry, enhancing team dynamics and leading to more inclusive product development.

As women continue to make strides in the tech industry, they still encounter significant challenges, from gender disparity to limited career advancement opportunities and inadequate support. Despite the industry’s promise of career growth and high-paying roles, it falls short in providing equal opportunities for women.

According to our recent women in tech survey, organizations are struggling to provide an inclusive environment that caters to the diverse needs of women in tech, leading to underrepresentation and a lack of retention of female talent.

And – understanding and addressing these challenges is crucial for fostering a more equitable and thriving tech landscape, particularly as employers increasingly seek technologists skilled in security, artificial intelligence, cloud, data science, and related areas to maintain their competitiveness in the ever-evolving tech industry.

But still, issues of equality prevail as women face obstacles against ineffective leadership and a lack of equity in pay and opportunities as they try to break into or advance within the tech field.

These barriers underscore the pressing need for organizations to support women in tech and bridge gaps in inequality. Skillsoft’s new report dives into this topic, compiling the findings of 500+ women who work in technical roles.

2024 Women in Tech Report

Current State of Gender Inequality in Tech

Although organizations have made concerted efforts to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace the gender gap remains stagnant with 15% of women surveyed reporting an equal ratio of men and women in the workplace, up three percentages last year but still a small percentage overall.

This imbalance is further highlighted by the fact that 46% of women in tech report that they are outnumbered by men in the workplace by ratios of four-to-one or greater.

Research by McKinsey has revealed a significant disparity at the entry-level, where only 32% of technology hardware roles and 43% of entry-level software roles are held by women. This disparity becomes even more pronounced higher up the career ladder, with women representing only 17% of hardware and 30% of software roles at the SVP level.

Thus, the need to attract more women into tech is clear, as is the pressing need to increase the representation of women in tech at the start of their careers by creating more entry-level opportunities and systems that encourage women to embark on tech careers. In addiktiona, companies need to focus on improving the environment to keep women in tech-related career paths, including equity in pay, equity in opportunities, and adequate representation. Consistent with trends across the broader tech industry, women are exploring new opportunities in pursuit of better compensation and more equitable work environments.

According to our latest IT Skills and Salary Report, an alarming 53% of tech professionals are at least somewhat likely to look for another position in the next year. This underscores a widespread desire for change among tech professionals, driven by similar concerns regarding management practices, training, career growth, and compensation.

Consider these stats...

  • Likelihood of Switching Job Roles/Employers: Respectively, 37% and 31% of women are contemplating switching job roles or employers in the next year, citing crucial factors such as department or company management, lack of training, growth and development opportunities, and compensation.
  • Value of Organizational Benefits: Women emphasize the significance of remote/hybrid work (63%), flexible working hours (60%), paid time off (60%), medical benefits (55%), and professional development//training opportunities (49%) as extremely important and valued organizational benefits.
Key Drivers of Job Satisfaction | Skillsoft 2024 Women in Tech Report

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The AI Impact on Women in Tech

In an era marked by technological advancements, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have emerged as pivotal areas of focus for IT decision-makers (ITDMs), highlighting their critical role in driving innovation and maintaining competitive advantage.

This year’s IT Skills and Salary Report found that 37% of ITDMs worldwide identify AI and ML as key areas of focus. However, 43% rate their teams’ skill set in AI as low or somewhat low, revealing a significant gap in the skills required to effectively leverage these technologies. The disparity is even more pronounced among women in the field.

According to our Women in Tech Report, while 40% of women actively utilize AI in their professional roles, a striking 63% report a distinct lack skills and training in AI. This gap not only poses a substantial barrier to individual career growth but also hinders the complete harnessing of AI’s potential in the workplace.

Despite these challenges, 72% of women acknowledge that AI has increased efficiency and productivity, shedding light on its transformative impact and the upside potential.

  • Interest in Learning AI: 41% of women express interest in learning about Analytics, AI, & Machine Learning, indicating a strong desire to acquire relevant skills in this transformative field.
  • AI's Impact on Diversity and Inclusion: 32% report that advancements in AI are moderately improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, presenting an opportunity for positive change within the industry.
Women need AI training to secure careers

Opportunities for Women in Tech

Women in tech want more opportunities – and rightfully so.

With a continuing urgent need to address this issue and create opportunities for women to thrive in the tech industry, organizations must prioritize attracting and retaining skilled talent through equitable training programs and recruitment strategies, especially given the ongoing challenges women in tech face in terms of representation, skill development, and workplace equality. Because the overall pool size is smaller, its takes a concentrated effort to attract women as part of the recruitment process, in particular for more senior roles . It is also important that as companies look at the candidate pool for first time leader roles to make a deliberate effort for equity.

Survey findings reveal persistent challenges faced by women in tech roles, with a notable lack of equity in opportunities (35%) as a major obstacle.

Among this disparity...

  • 46% of women in tech report ineffective leadership, management
  • 38% report a lack of equity in pay
  • 24% highlight a lack of professional development, training opportunities

These statistics emphasize the urgency in addressing these issues and creating opportunities for women to thrive in the tech industry.

So, what can organizations do to support and encourage women?

Guaranteeing equitable pay, offering professional development and training opportunities, and providing more mentoring or coaching at work are among the top ways companies could support and encourage women in tech, reflecting the need for proactive measures to bridge existing gaps.

In the spirit of taking concrete steps towards this goal, companies like Lexmark are leading by example with initiatives that prioritize the development of a diverse and talented pipeline.

Recognizing the need for a tailored leadership program created for women, by women, Lexmark developed the “Women at Work Circle Groups” Program. This internal leadership development initiative is aimed at offering professional guidance, strengthening business acumen, and fostering future leaders, allowing women in their organization to dedicate time to their own career development.

The impact is clear – by providing more opportunities for professional development and training, companies can empower women in tech to sharpen their skills, paving the way for career advancement and industry relevance.

Empowering Women Through Skills Development

Women in tech are hungry for continuous learning opportunities and new skills essential in the tech industry.

Professional development was marked as an extremely important and a very important benefit to 86% of respondents, highlighting the significance of investing in women's development to foster a thriving and diverse tech industry both for employers and individuals.

Our research shows that certifications helped women feel more confident at work (50%), improved their skills in tech-related areas (36%), and allowed them to earn more trust and credibility (33%) at work.

Women are most interested in developing skills in these areas:

  • Analytics, AI, and Machine Learning
  • Leadership and Management
  • Project Management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cloud Computing

By offering avenues for leadership development, technical training, coaching, and mentorship, organizations can bridge critical skill gaps while empowering women to make a meaningful impact within the tech industry.

Taking Proactive Steps Toward Parity

Employers must proactively create pathways to advancement and remove barriers that hinder women's progress in the tech industry.

Simultaneously, women in tech roles can support each other by seeking mentorship, embracing new opportunities, and advocating for themselves. For those aspiring to pursue a tech-related career, women ranked the following advice as most important:

  • Invest in tech education
  • Try out different roles
  • Find a mentor
  • Invest in power skill development
  • Stay up to date with tech trends

By working collaboratively, both employers and women can contribute to closing the gender gap and fostering a more inclusive and rewarding environment within the tech industry.

Prioritizing equitable opportunities, investing in professional development, and advocating for gender diversity allows organizations to harness the full potential of women in tech, driving better business outcomes, innovation and sustainable growth.

For further insights and comprehensive findings, access the complete report.