We address gender bias and female underrepresentation in the tech industry in panel discussion with female leaders

elev8 - 3 min read

Woman in tech

According to Accenture’s Resetting Tech Culture report, women leave tech industry jobs at a 45% higher rate than their male counterparts. But why is this? To find out, we hosted ‘Tackling Tech’s Gender Bias’, a webinar bringing together senior female leaders in the tech industry to discuss how to tackle gender bias and what steps can be taken to increase female representation. 

The panel featured Olatomiwa Williams, General Manager of Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, Sabine Vanderlinden, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Partner of Alchemy Crew, and Aileen Allkins, Chief Revenue Officer, elev8, and was moderated by Penny Horwood, Associate Editor, Computing. 

The tech leaders shared their own experiences of gender bias in the industry and offered practical advice on how organizations can break down the barriers to gender equity and retain more female talent. 

We need more women leaders to mentor and coach young females in their first career steps. Companies should enable the environment for women to thrive. At Microsoft, we have launched maternity as well as paternity programs as men are equal participants in family development,” shared Williams. 

VanderLinden commented that “in the tech industry, one of the biggest challenges is the way business has been built for many years. There is a lack of investors and founder diversity. Hiring referrals and performance evaluation criteria are also very often unconsciously biased.” 

Programs and processes make a difference, but if you’re not giving people the right support and enablement, then you risk undoing the good of those initiatives. 

The panellists discussed the importance of fostering workplace cultures with equitable policies and processes, the power of mentoring and sponsorship in driving change, and the risks to businesses in not embracing diversity.  

Many companies have mentoring programs, but not many offer sponsorship programs. A sponsor is someone who helps open the door, advocates for you, expands your visibility, and assists you in getting onto the projects to interact with different people. Mentors are people who help you with what to do once the door is open. It is more about learning, guidance, and support,” commented Allkins. 

When you empower one woman, you automatically empower at least five to ten other people.  

Women currently hold just 26.7% of tech-related jobs, but research from McKinsey suggests that advancing gender equity could add up to $12 trillion to global GDP, making the inclusion of women in tech a good idea not only for business but for the world.  

Allkins offered that skilling programs are one way in which an organization can expand female talent pools. “Recently, I joined a roundtable in Nigeria with women who graduated from a tech skilling program, telling stories about how joining the program impacted their careers and enabled them to join the tech industry. It is not only about companies introducing innovations to help young women to thrive, but this is also about changing their lives”. 

At elev8, we are passionate about shaping the future for the next generation of women in tech and believes that together, we can create a workplace free of bias for women everywhere. 

To view ‘Tackling Tech’s Gender Bias’ webinar on-demand please click here.  

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about the power of digital skilling programs as a tool to tackle gender bias, reduce attrition, and create a robust talent pipeline, contact us at  [email protected]