Resilient celebrates International Women’s Day

Mar 8, 2017

Today in the Resilient offices we’re recognising International Women’s Day- a day that has been observed since the early 1900’s to celebrate the achievements of women, from political to social, as well as promoting gender equality and bringing attention to gender disparity around the world.

This year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange is about stepping up and taking decisive action in areas where change needs to happen. This struck me as a powerful maxim for 2017, because despite how far we’ve come, there’s still room for positive change in the technology industry.

Frankly, there just aren’t enough of us in it. Last year, figures from the Tech Partnership showed that women make up just 17% of technical roles, compared with 47% of the workforce as a whole.

Are women still being held back by old stereotypes that women don’t have as much aptitude for jobs involving maths, computing and engineering? It’s hard to say, but as we pledge to be ‘bold for change’, it’s time to face this stubborn myth head on and bring it to light. And it is a myth, one that is outright disproven by scientific evidence, as this fascinating article from Stanford University explains.

Strangely enough, when it comes to the top jobs in tech, there are no shortage of female faces. Women like YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, HP CEO Meg Whitman, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Oracle CEO Safra Catz and Facebook COO Sheryl Sansberg: the roll call of influencers in some of the world’s most powerful tech giants goes on. Women are running the technology companies that shape the way we live, they’re generating billions for digital industries and changing lives.

So why is this not trickling down? In the UK tech industry as a whole, fewer then one in 10 women hold positions of leadership, and those in software engineering roles make up a shocking 4%.

It doesn’t take a degree in maths to figure that one out! Neither does it take much to see that missing out on the talents of 50% of the population is a huge blow for our industry.

Taking steps towards a more inclusive workplace

We cannot instantly destroy unconscious biases that have taken centuries to become ingrained (watch this video from the National Centre for Women in Technology for an interesting take on unconscious bias and gender) – but we can challenge them, bit by bit. We can notice assumptions and try to veer away from them, whether it’s about gender, ethnicity or sexuality. For instance, in our hiring process it can be something as simple as the language we use in a job advert.

And, importantly, we can equip our employees with the tools and policies to embrace more flexible workstyles.

A UK study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that one in nine mothers (11%) have experienced incidents of pregnancy and maternity descrimination, showing that an unconscious bias towards working mothers in the workplace is still a very real thing.

Empowering people to work flexibly sends the message that parents or carers are free to fit their commitments around work, as long as they are doing a good job.

Government reports show that flexible working is the key to tackling the gender pay gap, in an economy that sees 59% of minimum wage and part time jobs worked by women.

Technology has always been the great equaliser, dissolving boundaries and enabling people of all backgrounds to participate socially and economically. So it’s time those in digital industries made use of technologies such as mobile and the cloud the to enact the bold change our industry needs.

Heena Surani is Chief People Office at Resilient. She is dedicated to nurturing the talent that will become Resilient’s next business leaders, investing in and supporting them every step of the way in their career development to achieve their full potential, whatever their gender or chosen field.