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Inclusivity in the Tech Industry: Overcoming Hurdles for Women

Nikoleta Kallipoliti

Marketing Project Coordinator

March 7, 2024


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As the world celebrates International Women's Day, it's still necessary to reflect on the challenges that women continue to encounter in the tech industry and explore avenues for overcoming them. Despite significant strides toward gender equality, women in tech still face formidable obstacles that hinder their advancement and retention in the field. From pervasive gender biases to systemic barriers in workplace culture and opportunities, the journey for women in tech is often fraught with challenges.

Non-inclusive company cultures continue to be a problem

A study conducted by Accenture reveals that 50% of women leave tech-related jobs before the age of 35, primarily due to a poor and non-inclusive culture. Poornima Urs, Head of QA Engineering at Accedo, thinks that the barriers preventing women from staying and advancing within the tech industry encompass a wide range of factors such as trying to balance a demanding career with familial responsibilities, facing unequal pay compared to male counterparts, and grappling with impostor syndrome stemming from societal norms.. 

Poornima shares, “At Accedo, I have been able to grow up the corporate ladder by challenging myself to do my best and dream big! I quickly mastered the tasks at hand for my current role and then took up additional responsibilities and worked on several initiatives that the next role had to offer. This was a natural segway for a promotion!” 

She believes that in order to increase women’s presence in tech, and even more so in leadership roles, companies should offer trust-based flexible working environments, as well as mentorship programs, which enable work-life balance and ensure equal pay for equal work. 

Hybrid work models have truly made a difference

Noa Primo, Product Design Lead at Accedo, shares Poornima’s view. She believes that flexible or hybrid work models are a game-changer for women, “especially for those like me, juggling career and family life”. In fact, according to one study, 49% of women leaders consider flexibility to be one of the top three factors when deciding whether to join or remain with a company.

“The new hybrid work models give us the freedom to find a balance between work and life,” says Noa. She continues, “They can lead to higher productivity and job satisfaction”. However, she also acknowledges that challenges exist, particularly around maintaining visibility and ensuring equal opportunities for advancement. She particularly brings up the concept of ‘mommy guilt’ as something that may be hindering women in their career progression. “Leaving the office on time to pick up the children or saving commute time by working a couple of days from home was possible in many jobs before the pandemic, but came with something that can be referred to as the ‘flexibility stigma’. People who took advantage of workplace flexibility were seen as less serious workers, and it ended up hurting their careers.”

Noa suggests that in order for women to progress professionally, it's essential that companies not only offer flexible working arrangements but also foster a culture that values productivity over presence. This means recognizing and rewarding outcomes, providing opportunities for remote employees to engage and advance, and ensuring that flexible working doesn't become a barrier to career development.

Mentorship programs can help women progress

A pivotal factor in retaining women in the tech industry is mentorship programs, particularly those pairing mentees with senior role models of the same gender. Research by Lin et al. illustrates how many women prefer to have a female mentor, as they often share a stronger rapport and understanding. Sital Gautam, our Senior Technical Support Engineer at Accedo, experienced firsthand the transformative impact of mentorship programs:

“In the past year, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a mentorship program that proved to be transformative for my personal and professional growth. I was paired with a remarkable senior female colleague whose guidance not only enhanced my learning but also provided valuable insights into the delicate balance of managing both work and home responsibilities as a woman”.

Sital explains how the mentorship dynamic created a level of comfort where she could freely express herself from a female perspective. “As a working mother, being paired with a female colleague who is in the same situation of navigating the challenges of balancing career and family life, really showcased the incredible strength and potential of women. My mentor played a pivotal role in helping me identify my strengths and areas for improvement. Through her own experiences, she offered invaluable guidance on overcoming obstacles that I may encounter throughout my professional journey”.

Gender pay gaps are still a real issue

Another critical topic that warrants consideration is the persistent gender pay gap. In technology-driven sectors, women are offered lower salaries than men in 63% of cases, despite performing the exact same job within the same company. Phillip Farinha, Director of People & Culture at Accedo emphasizes the complexity of the gender pay gap issue and the need for comprehensive solutions. He advocates for transparency as a foundational principle, highlighting the importance of regular pay audits, clear pay structures, and open communication to build trust and identify pay discrepancies.

“Tackling unconscious bias is crucial”, says Phillip and continues,  “We need comprehensive training and gender-neutral hiring practices to eliminate its influence. Additionally, creating safe spaces for employees to report concerns empowers them to advocate for themselves.”

Phillip also emphasizes the significance of ensuring equal access to family leave for all genders and the role of mentorship programs in advancing women's careers. By connecting women with experienced leaders, these programs can accelerate their professional growth and mitigate barriers to advancement.

“Building a culture of respect, fairness, and equal opportunity is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. Our goal is a future where pay reflects talent, not gender. As advocates for change, we need to move beyond asking ‘if’ and commit to ‘how’. Together, we can bridge the pay gap”, concludes Phillip.

Media’s influence is key in accelerating an inclusive culture

In keeping with our commitment to inclusiveness, we recognize the profound influence of media representation on societal perceptions and advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in content creation and dissemination. Despite comprising 50% of the world's population, women hold only 34% of speaking roles in movies, highlighting the pervasive gender disparity in media representation. Bleuenn Le Goffic, VP of Strategy & Business Development at Accedo, articulates the influence of media on societal perceptions:

“I am a fervent believer that the media are an influencer of society and not a simple mirror of how presumed audiences think, speak, or look. How do we bring awareness of the benefits of diversity to a global audience? How do we make inclusiveness the new norm of human interaction? I believe that the answer lies in integrating these concepts into storytelling first, regardless of the genre”.Bleuenn believes that this may all start with giving a public voice to a diverse pool of writers and constantly measuring what is being produced, distributed, and liked through the lens of diversity and inclusion perspectives. “Like any industry, media companies have to challenge their internal hiring processes, and work towards making a greater impact, by growing what is aligned with the global sustainability targets.”

While it is encouraging to witness women talent progress in tech-related sectors, it's imperative to recognize that the journey towards gender equality is still ongoing. By acknowledging and addressing the obstacles that women face, and by implementing proactive measures such as flexible work arrangements, mentorship programs, and efforts to close the gender pay gap, we can pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future. Together, let us continue to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech sector, ensuring that every woman has the opportunity to thrive and succeed in this dynamic and ever-evolving field.

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