Women and Technology Roles Mixing Well Together | DCR Workforce Blog

Women and Technology Roles Mixing Well Together

In May, we issued a blog discussing the poor track record established by Silicon Valley when it comes to hiring women. We explored the reasons, shared their corrective action plans, and promised to monitor their performance against these commitments.

Apple hired 65% more women in 2014, compared to its 2013 hiring. While the company has a long way to go, there is no doubt that it is going in the right direction and actually showing some progress in doing so. Apple currently has 31% of its workforce consisting of women. If we go into further detail, we find the following statistics, all of them showcasing growth in the number of women working with Apple.

Women and Technology Roles Mixing Well Together

Other technology giants offer similar diversity statistics with HP at 33% (a number which may see a revision once the proposed layoffs happen), Intel at 24% and Microsoft at 28%. While progress is being made, the diversity numbers of Apple and other high tech giants may not be a big cause for celebration.

There are indications from other quarters that women are making their presence felt in the IT industry and overcoming the innate biases held against them. We believe that these factors are contributing to their progress:

  • The economy has created greater gaps between high and low-paying careers, resulting in greater numbers pursuing high tech careers.
  • Schools and interest groups are launching programs that specifically target young women who love technology.
  • Support groups are helping women to overcome the bias against them by mentoring one another and forming advisory groups. A growing number of role models are emerging, as indicated in one such success story of Aarthi Ramamurthy is the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Lumoid.
  • Even as recently as 2010, women entrepreneurs were facing questions about balancing their careers with their responsibilities as wives and mothers. But the Kauffmann Report brought in new insight into how women-backed firms earn a much higher rate of return on VC backed ventures.
  • An increasing number of couples have established a more equitable balance when it comes to child rearing and household responsibilities, making it possible for women to meet the demanding schedules and travel requirements of a high tech career.
  • Technology has emerged that enables workers to be just as effective when working remotely as in the office. High tech positions lend themselves to these roles. This increases the attractiveness of careers in high tech.

Some positive workplace changes, which could help workplaces progress along this path, would include:

  • Offering women the option to re-enter the workforce at comparable levels to when they left could incentivize them to return to work after extensive absences tied to child-rearing or caring for family members. Of course, the high tech industry is driven by innovation. This means that every worker is obligated to keep pace. Those returning from a leave of absence, but wish to re-enter at a technical position equivalent to their prior position, must have kept pace with the change through online research and training.
  • Allowing women to work remotely requires a management mindset that does not equate productivity and professionalism with the number of hours spent at the office. While the technology exists to enable highly productive remote work, we often find that the leadership skills lag behind.
  • Continued corporate education and enforcement of policies that are intolerant of the subtle forms of prejudice that discourage women from joining a work environment that behaves as a boys club.

Irrespective of gender, people fail when they lack the required confidence, support and determination to succeed. Apple and other high tech companies have shown progress in making good on their commitment to hire more women. That’s a great first step. Equal focus must now be on creating an environment in which these talented women can succeed. The very name of this industry – high tech – connotes innovation, forward thinking, and the ability to solve problems using new approaches. Over the past five decades, this industry has solved unsolvable problems, introduced unimaginable products, and revolutionized all aspects of our lives. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that these companies would be able to resolve the issue of sub-optimizing 50% of the workforce? DCR will continue to monitor and report on their progress.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.