We wrote an article on this same topic two years ago, and in some ways, some things have changed when we look at the gender gap, but in many, it is still quite prevalent.
It’s no secret that the tech industry has a big problem regarding diversity. Women and several minority groups are still underrepresented in the business world. Even with the advances in bias awareness and gender diversity training, women still make up a tiny fraction of the technology workforce. Women currently hold only 26.7% of tech-related jobs. It comes as no surprise that the tech industry has for years inspired and lent itself to young boys and men, often under the pretense that women “aren’t interested” in STEM. Rarely is the problem looked at from a different point of view, like asking why women might not feel welcome in tech spaces.
From implicit gender bias to workplace harassment, jobs in tech can be particularly unwelcoming to women—and that’s not to mention intersectional experiences, where BIPOC women often face more harassment and negative bias than their white counterparts. While studies have shown for years where the issues lie for women in tech, these conversations continue to dominate our discourse, suggesting little change has been made.
Begone, Gender Myths & Expectations
You'd think we would be moving in the right direction, but quietly, the percentage of women in all tech-related careers has decreased over the last 2 years.
Many have brought to light the inequalities at home. Women, for example, are more likely than their partners to care for their children daily, regardless of whether they work. That said, you can also directly link employment rates to pressures women face vis-a-vis parental duties. Women are experiencing more unemployment than ever, and thus more pressure to be the main parental figures at home. The chat asked respondents about their experiences with this issue, and if they felt household responsibilities fell mainly on them.
Pandemic conditions are among the more significant challenges women face, with over 50% of women reporting difficulties due to pandemic workplace changes.
It's important to have a strong support system. For women with partners, a key part of having a healthier relationship with work is having their partner do their share of housework. #WFH measures and the blurring of work/home life has made it so gender inequalities at home directly impact performance at work, and women are disproportionately affected by this work/home blurring compared to men.
A CNBC article explains that there's a common, yet false, narrative that describes that women are 'ashamed' to make more than their partners. Stories like this add to the idea that men are the main breadwinners and women are in charge of taking care of the kids.
Biases: The Implicit, the Explicit, and the Unconscious
Bias affects every aspect of a person’s journey with a company. Starting as early as the recruitment process, where some see women as less competent than their male counterparts (regardless of the interviewer’s gender).
While many studies show the negative biases men in tech have towards women, we don’t have nearly as much data on how women treat other women in tech.
The existence of intersectional identities means women (notably straight, white women) are just as likely as men to hold unconscious bias based on race, sexuality, or gender identity. After all, challenging gender biases and uplifting women means doing so for all women, particularly BIPOC and trans women, who are most vulnerable to bias in the workplace.
“Make sure every person in a meeting is heard."
The Female Lead speaks on what they call an ‘unentitled mindset’, in which systems have conditioned women to feel less entitled than men to a good pay, work flexibility, and promotions. An unentitled mindset (also known as an ‘entitlement gap’) can contribute to larger factors holding women back at work, and prevents essential conversations from taking place. Responses in the chat to this topic showed a clear trend—that internal biases are all too common but not impossible to challenge.
Part of challenging biases means taking actionable steps to address inequalities in the workplace. Uncomfortable conversations are often the most important ones, and it is every company’s responsibility to end the silence on gender inequality in tech. To close the chat, we asked for some things all allies can do daily to uplift women in the workplace. Certainly, remote work means it’s every leader’s responsibility to create a culture where employees can speak out against injustices, have difficult conversations, and come out of them ready to be better allies.
How automation is helping the gender gap
One of the most pressing issues is whether women are more likely than men to lose their jobs due to automation. And the answer is slightly more complex than that. Women will have fewer difficulties balancing work and home responsibilities as automation makes it easier to work from home. It is also offering fewer chances of in-person discomfort and discrimination.
Even though times are changing, the fight against gender inequality continues. Every day we must take action, listen to and uplift women, and hold the sexist systems in which we live accountable. We must raise our hands and speak up against the gender gap, educate our coworkers, and do better.
At Wrk, we’re still a relatively young company, and creating strong foundations against inequality is a key part of our growing process.
If you would like to read more of our company culture posts, you can do so here.