Despite the backlash earlier this year surrounding the #MeToo movement, an unrelenting optimism surrounding the gradual advancement of women in tech roles is growing and even proving economically advantageous in times of recession.
Mary Patry is an IT Executive Coach, Advisor and owner of ITeffectivity.
Warren Buffett said he’s optimistic about the future of our country in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Because it’s prompting a massive cultural shift in our thinking – however uncomfortable that may be for the “deeply ingrained attitudes of those who simply can’t imagine a world different from the one they’ve lived in” – that’s effectively doubling the pool of employable talent.
Trailblazers Help Open Doors
While women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer are paving the way for young women to seek prospective paths to leadership roles and corporate boardrooms, the gender pay gaps that pervade many industries are equally present in technology roles. According to Hired, Inc.’s The State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace, men are offered higher salaries than women for the same job at the same company 63% of the time.
Sherry Hunyadi, CIO at Layne Christensen, cited a lack of mentorship within internal organizations as another hurdle for women looking to advancing their careers in IT.
“If no one in leadership is vouching for you, women rarely seek out mentors due to an assumption of a sexual relationship,” Hunyadi noted recently among a mixed group of male and female IT leaders at Midmarket CIO Forum in Savannah.
In the earlys 90s when Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment by then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas threatened his confirmation hearing, Cory Mason, Global IT Dir. and CIO at Twin Disc, said he and his full leadership team were discouraged against going to lunch or socializing outside the office with any female colleagues or employees due to potential negative perception.
Focusing on Diversity Proves Valuable
Merline Saintil, a female Haitian immigrant who now heads product and tech operations at Intuit, said as her company looks to the future, they understand that a majority of their customers will be female. She writes that supporting women needs to be a top focus for organizations because innovation thrives where this is diversity of thought.
For both women and men already in the CIO role, promoting IT within the company as a business partner can help bring the organization’s function to the forefront and make the field more appealing to young women and prospective internal hires. The rise of gamification in the workplace is popular among men for their ability to conquer something, but women want technology to serve a functional purpose, like freeing up more time to go home early and be with their families.
With the rise of organizations like Girls Who Code and STEM 101, small steps are helping edge more females into historically male dominated fields, and companies who focus on hiring diverse employees stand to reap the benefits.
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)’s research on the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance, an analysis of 2,360 global companies in a variety of industries found that companies with women on their executive boards outperformed companies with all-male executive boards. Gender-diverse management teams showed superior return on equity, debt/equity ratios, price/equity ratios, and average growth with many of these benefits appearing after the 2008 global economic crash, leading researchers to conclude that gender diversity might be especially valuable in times of recession.