It is no secret that working in a male-dominated environment can be challenging for female staff. Technology is an industry still dominated by men. And although things are changing, we still hear about women in tech experiences that are less than optimal.
We decided to engage in a conversation with the ODS women in tech to learn more about how they perceived their experience at On Device Solutions. A survey was delivered to 24 staff members. We then received 14 contributions from female respondents who have been with ODS for at least one year, many for three or four years. 64% of the female respondents were in the 20 – 29 age range, while the remaining ODS women in tech were 30 – 39 years old. Let’s start with question five because the answers made us smile.
13 out of 14 female members of our tech force answered that it is just as easy for women as it is for men to break into the tech industry. But, of course, this is not an opinion shared by all. Hence, we decided to investigate the following areas: tech gender makeup, women retention problem and the struggle to advance to the c-suite – both outside and inside On Device Solutions offices.
Tech Gender Makeup
The lack of diversity in the IT sector is not new; organisations have been facing this challenge for many years. Reportedly, tech corporations worldwide prefer to hire mostly from a tiny pool of talent – primarily white men from the UK and Asian guys from prestigious educational institutions. Women, however, are reported to hold only 24% of tech positions, making up around 19% of STEM grads.
For many years, the proportion of women in computer science has been declining. It is reflected by a decrease in women working in all technical disciplines. Moreover, the proportion of women in technology is known to vary by country. For example, in Slovakia, women make up just 9.29% of the overall technological employment.
Then, statistics on female technology graduates confirm another well-known fact: STEM fields are dominated by men. This disparity in the ratio of female computer science majors is hardly surprising, given that women in STEM have few STEM role models. This gender disparity is sometimes referred to as the STEM gap. Unfortunately, despite rising attention to gender inequality, gender disparities in STEM professions remain a problem in today’s technology job market.
In January 2020, Aei.org reported on the female share of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences from 1971 to 2017 based on data from the Department of Education. “Women’s share of computer science degrees peaked at slightly above 37% in 1984 and has been on a gradual decline ever since and below 20% for more than a decade. Perhaps the massive efforts of universities and organisations like GIRLS WHO CODE stopped a further decline in the female share of computer science degrees and helped stabilise it at just below 20%.”
Earlier this year, a UK-based organisation, STEM WOMEN, reported that “although the medium-term trend showed female numbers increasing in IT professional roles in 2017, the numbers of men working in these roles were increasing at a faster rate, jumping by 60,000 in the past year. This means the female proportion of the IT professional workforce was still only 16% in 2019.”
At On Device Solutions, we do our best to support our female tech staff, believing their professional value is no lesser than that of their male counterparts and appreciating the benefits a diverse working environment provides. The total tech strength at ODS India is 130 – out of which 83 are male, and 47 are female tech staff. More than one in three ODS tech personnel are women. Considering the overall tech industry status quo, we believe this is a decent ratio and hope the number of women in tech at On Device Solutions continues to rise, helping our company’s profile become even more diversified.
According to recently revealed workplace data for high-tech organisations, there are several reasons why women leave their tech careers. In most businesses, the ratio of men to women is still wanting – despite numerous efforts and programs developed to address the problem.
According to the popular employment website Indeed (2018), “Lack of job growth (28%) and poor wages (24%) are two of the main reasons women leave their tech jobs.”
According to another report on women in IT (2019), 24% of those who quit their professions say it was due to bad management. In addition, more than half think their male colleagues have more prospects for job advancement and pay increases than the typical female employee.
Hence, as part of our On Device Solutions women in tech survey, we asked the following question: “How do the ODS senior and mid-level management support your growth at On Device Solutions?”
All, except one of our 14 respondents, said (without reservations) that they felt supported, encouraged to learn, guided, and seen by the ODS management team. One – with a few initial reservations – confessed, “I won’t bluff, but at one point, I thought things were stagnant. I kept writing in the quarterly appraisals that I was interested in learning a new technology, but no one came back to me until one bright day, Nikhil (Senior HR) called me; I had a word with him, and immediately my request was actioned – I was trained in android.”
Well done to our new android specialist for persevering and our Senior HR member for recognising and helping to meet her need for on-the-job training. All is well that ends well.
A software engineer who recently became a mother gave one answer that truly warmed our hearts. She said, “After my first kid, it was difficult to return to work… ODS has given me the opportunity for my second start after my gap in software experience.”
The above mentioned are only two of the many positive answers recognising our efforts to improve the women in tech experience by providing a diverse and fair environment for all ODS employees.
And yet, another study from 2020 reported that women quit the tech sector at a rate that is 45% greater than men. High job-departure rates are significantly influenced by short maternity periods, a lack of paid leave, and inhospitable culture in many workplaces.
Again, we asked our female tech staff members the following question, “Do you plan on staying in a technical role long-term? Where do you see yourself in five years?
All, except one respondent, answered that they want to remain in a technical role and grow their expertise, some aspiring to become or grow as managers and team leaders. While also wishing to stay in the tech sector, one respondent said, “I don’t want to leave my strength, i.e., technical knowledge, but I would like to see myself as Solution Architect in the near future….”
“The change in perspective is palpable”, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani told CNBC earlier this year. A decade ago, she confessed to hearing many parents – who struggled to get their daughters interested in coding – say, “It’s just not cool.” Now, she claims she’s inundated with proud parents, exclaiming, “My daughter is the captain of her robotics team!” etc. “We did change [the] culture, and we made coding cool,” Saujani adds.
At On Device Solutions, we also want to help make a difference in the women in tech experience. It was exciting to read our female staff’s answers, such as: “Technology can impact lives at a level and scale that has never been realised in the history of humankind. The idea that something I create can impact someone across the world now or in the future is what drives my passion for technology. And, with skill and hard work, anyone can do it.” This answer makes technology sound very cool indeed.
Another one said, “Interest in technology is something that comes naturally to all tech geeks… It came to us. We saw some form of technology that made us itch; we wanted to know more about it. Passion and interest fundamentally come from the sparkle you get initially, and you must hope that this sparkle is bright enough to get you through the tough times….”
We are under no illusion that more improvement is needed in the tech sector where bridging the gender gap is concerned. But gender equality should not necessarily imply that an equal number of men and women must work in each tech business area.
Instead, we believe in providing all our team members the chance to pick their professional paths according to their unique skill sets while offering equal pay and career progression opportunities – regardless of gender. “In my opinion, there is no difference between female and male presence in the tech industry or any industry. Any person with good knowledge, experience, attitude, self-respect, ownership, teamwork, and individuality will surely benefit any industry,” said one of our senior software engineers.
At the same time, we are determined to do our part in improving the female tech industry experience, starting from our ODS home. “A team of both males and females can come up with many different viewpoints because men and women see things differently and bring unique ideas to the table.” We couldn’t agree more with this feedback shared by our functional consultant as part of the survey.
Finally, another one of our female senior software engineers concluded, “I want to use my skills and knowledge to make other people’s jobs easier and more productive.” We are convinced that many ODS staff members – both male and female – find themselves in this answer. At On Device Solutions, we all share a passion for technology and excellence and providing a great customer experience to ODS clients. That passion and purpose connect ODS men and women in tech, making us look beyond gender and other things that make us different.
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