The Balancing Act: A look at the gender parity within technology
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Every March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD). I was reminded of this earlier in the week and wondered if we even need such a day anymore? Perhaps others ask themselves the same question?
I considered what takes place in my typical day. Kid duties on either end and a full-time job in between, and no matter the task, there are key performance indicators throughout it all – whether it’s hitting marketing goals or hitting the supermarket before it closes.
I looked at the book I was reading. Ironically, it was titled, “Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do.”
So, I decided to check out the IWD website and refresh myself on what this day is really about.
“Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.” – IWD
This year’s IWD theme is #BalanceforBetter.
The truth is, I love my busy life, and I’m fortunate to have it. Our culture at CloudShare is supportive and places a high value on women in leadership positions. The company provides generous family leave policies, as well as a proven commitment to work life balance. I also work with an incredible group of peers, male and female.
In fact, we’re ahead some trends that appeared in the just-announced Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) Women in Technology Leadership 2019 report. Since 2014, SVB has been measuring gender parity within technology and healthcare industries as part of a larger focus on startups.
Unfortunately, while there have been some slight gains, the outlook is somber.
Where are the female tech leaders?
The first statistic shared in the report is that half of all leadership teams include no women. I’m proud that at CloudShare, out of the seven members on our team, three are women in key leadership roles that strongly impact sales and product development.
Unfortunately, that’s not typical, and additional research shows there’s a lack of gender balance throughout business.
For instance, PayScale reported women earn 77.9 cents for every dollar men receive. The survey also showed men obtain senior posts at much higher rates: 70 percent are more likely to be in VP or C-suite roles than women by mid-career, 142 percent by late career.
Even in emerging fields the statistics show a lack of balance. Males hold three out of four jobs in technology. In cybersecurity alone, Government Technology reports that women make up just 14 percent of the U.S. workforce. A study by (ISC)2 and Booz Allen Hamilton further noted that men were nine times more likely to hold managerial spots.
And this in an industry facing a severe talent crisis.
Is balance good for business?
Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future, noted in Forbes: “The argument in favor of greater gender equality in cybersecurity is really not one of right vs. wrong or men vs. women. Rather, it’s that having more women in the workplace is good for business.”
Data does indeed show promoting smart women – and hiring more of them – is key to growth.
Research by the Peterson Institute of International Economics revealed “having women in the highest corporate offices is correlated with increased profitability…an increase in the share of women from zero to 30 percent would be associated with a 15 percent rise in profitability.” A study of Fortune 500 companies also discovered companies with women in top management roles “produce more patents – by an average of 20 percent more than teams with male leaders.”
That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress in achieving balance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 58.5 percent of training managers are women, compared with just under 40 percent across other functions. The Training Industry Magazine article, “Women Lead the Way in Learning and Development,” reveals women outrank men on accepting and empathizing with others and recognizing and developing people’s potential – key skills for training professionals.
That’s the good news, yet as the BLS research also pointed out, the proportion of women also dwindles when it comes to higher management roles in training.
A 2019 report from SVB Women in Technology Leadership found “six in 10 startups have programs to increase women in leadership.” However, the follow-on finding can make you wince:
“There is a small difference depending on the gender makeup of the founding team: If the team included a woman, 65 percent of startups have a program compared with 57 percent if the founding team was men only.”
What can we, as an industry do to change this?
Balance for the better
So, as I was reminded, we do indeed need an International Woman’s Day. After all, as the organization says, “balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.” And study after study shows the more diverse the team, the better the balance, the greater the business results.
Life can be a balancing act, but make no mistake, we all do better when everyone has equal footing.
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