What image comes to mind when you think of a ‘techie’? Though there may be some variety between the stereotypical pictures people think of, in all likelihood, they have one thing in common - they are male.
This is perhaps not surprising, given that women currently fill only 24% of the computing workforce in the US. Furthermore, as this industry is forecast to grow the most in the coming years, it has been suggested that without any intervention, the share of women in tech will further decrease in the next decade.
How Women in Tech Benefit the Bottom Line
Some may say that as long as the best people are being recruited, their gender or background is irrelevant. However, the positive impact of diversity in business can never be underestimated, an assertion which is supported by an increasing amount of research. A 2015 McKinsey report found that companies in the top quartile for diversity were up to 35% more likely to financially outperform those less diverse.
The fact is that a diverse group of people are more likely to produce a greater range of ideas than a homogenous group whose backgrounds and experiences are all similar. This is especially key in the tech industry, where innovation is vital. Diverse perspectives mean that there is more chance of the status quo being questioned and improved, possible issues are highlighted from different angles, and the different experiences of those involved means that a more comprehensive user experience can be created.
When women drive 70-80% of consumer purchasing through not only buying, but also influence, it makes sense that for products to appeal to both men and women, they should be designed by both men and women. Take Apple’s health app - when the first version was released in 2014, purported to cover every aspect of physical health, there was no option to record menstrual cycles, despite that being an important health factor for over half of their customer base. Was it a coincidence that there were reportedly no women on the development team? Perhaps not.
How to Encourage Women into the Tech Industry
So clearly, getting more women involved in tech would be beneficial, not just for commercial purposes but in terms of the services on offer to the public. There have been some initiatives launched to try and change the perception that tech is for boys and encourage girls to be open to it at an early age. Most recently, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and non-profit group Girls Who Code have been aiming to get coding into US state curriculums at an early age.
However, there is much to be done at the corporate level too.
The presence of women and the visibility of champions and role models will attract other women, which is why MVF (Expert Market’s parent company) run #womenwednesdays to showcase our great talent.
#womenwednesday we caught up with Kris Van Sebroeck, one of our longest serving Senior Front End Developers at MVF. She is a real inspiration for #womenintech When did you start? I joined MVF on 03/07/2012, wow that's nearly four and a half years! What positions have you held at MVF? I started as a Web Designer, then I was promoted to Front End Developer and now I'm Senior Front End Developer. How did you progress so quickly? Asking myself every day "How can I do this better?" Who is your idol? I don't have a particular idol, but I admire people that have persistence when facing challenges. What is the key to your success in 3 words? "Make it happen." If you could hold any position in the world what would it be? I would like to be in charge of a business incubator for startups that specifically helps young people. If you would like to work with Kris, please click the link in our bio
In a so-called ‘logical’ sector traditionally targeted towards men, the scope for creativity should be emphasised, as well as our notoriously great potential for flexibility and benefits in the workplace.
The myth that you need a computer science degree to learn how to code should be debunked to encourage women to consider tech later in life - take MVF’s very own Visjna who went from ballerina to self-taught software developer.
Pushing simple initiatives like these means the tech industry will be able to access more and more of the as yet untapped pool of female talent. As a result, innovative capability will be increased through a more diverse range of skills, perspectives and experiences. With more women in tech, we have a lot to gain.