Why women chose tech and stay there was to be found out by the My Way-project group at NetPort Science Park in Karlshamn, Sweden, in a task given to them in the beginning of November 2015 by WITISweden. This was a follow-up on a previous task given to the group one month earlier on ‘How to increase the numbers of WIT (Women In Tech)’. The MyWay-project is aimed at adolescents in the age 18-25 that are interested in a career in Digital Media Tech. It’s a diverse group in gender, age and ethnicity. The result was presented at the WITISweden (Women In Tech International) AW at our sponsor, the tech meetup space FooCafé in Malmö, Sweden. And with us this night were also participants from our new and second sponsor the IT-consultant agency WEBSTEP.
The two major questions they worked out of in the fist task were:
1. How a tech company attract, develop and keep women in/to tech jobs?
2. How can women be attracted to get into tech jobs?
The 7 areas identified that they focused on were how:
- stereotypes within tech can be changed
- schools pedagogy, increase tech subjects and give all equal opportunities for learning tech may change
- to create a company culture that is beneficial for all
- to create commercial and recruiting ads directed to women
- Equal pre-requisites, opportunities and conditions can be created for men and women at work places
- to push forward and show role models of women in tech
- to increase the insight and knowledge about the opportunities in tech to parents
- How can advertising and recruitment ads be created more specific to target women?
- Consider what attracts or repels women to apply for a job. Eg. put the actual skills needed, and don’t exaggerate and be unrealistic. And that the company is looking for a human and not a superhero. are less likely to apply for a job when they have less than 70 % of skills required.
- Make the ad easily accessible by using social media eg. Facebook, LinkedIn etc
- Image of the company by mentioning how its working with gender issues, why it’s important with WIT at the company etc.
- Role models Make women from the company visible in different settings eg. ads, conferences etc.
- How can equal prerequisites, opportunities and conditions be created for women and med at the work place?
- First and foremost the issue with inequalities between women and men need to be addressed and spoken of. A major problem is the unawareness subjective understanding of learned conditioned that forms our behaviors. For example, a study by Mckinsey.com shows thas less men than women recognize and realize that women face different challenges than men at a work place.
- Engagement needed to solve the problem. It doesn’t get solve by itself.
- Increase sense of coherence for women at the work place. Lack of coherence is a reason that about 50 % of the women leave tech according to Harvard Business review.
- Increase support from managers and increase chances for career development
- Importance of role models for women to enter the tech business
- Diversity in teams
- Equal pay
It seems like the majority of the issues is stems from the culture at the company, and needs to be dealt with.
Suggestions for questions to ask for companies to increase the numbers of WIT are
- Where in the company can women be found?
- What talents/skills does the company support women to develop?
- Does the company support women role models?
- How is the physical and psycho-social work environment?
- Does the company guidelines for equality at the work place have an effect?
Plenty of more to read can be downloaded in the slides and paper from the presentation. It’s all in Swedish but the solution might be Google translate. If there is anything that’s unclear and/or if you need any further information contact the MyWay-project in links provided in the texts.
Summing it up: To increase the numbers of WIT is a question for both women AND men, and not an issue for women. Everyone is to gain from increased WIT and diversity at the work place. Numbers as high as 36% increase in equity has been shown at businesses that has a a great diversity.
After the pizza and beer break sponsored by FooCafé and WEBSTEP we continued the discussion and the community shared their own experiences by being a WIT. They were also several men in the audience and the discussion was hot at times, but very concrete, honest and constructive.
The reasons why women in the WITISweden community got into tech were in short
- Role models
- Support and encouragement from parents, primarily father
- Teacher inspired
- Had to solve a tech problem
- Wanted/needed a job
And why they stay in tech is because it’f FUN and they’re passionistas for tech and programming! Like problem solving.
The major wish for the next meetup was to have someone from Netlight, the IT-consultancy agency that was chosen as “Work Place of the Year in Sweden 2015” for companies with more than 450 employees, to be talking. And that’s how it will be.
I’ve arranged, thanks to Vanja Tufvesson, HIQ, and initiator and founder of Pink Programming, that Isabella Arningsmark from the award-winning Netlight will be presenting at our next AW, January 13, 2016.
But first and foremost I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016!
My very best,