Trying to spot a woman working in the office of a tech company isn’t easy. People often ask me what it’s like to work for software companies as a female and my answer is always the same: a techy boys’ club with a ping pong table and noise-cancelling headphones.
The gender bias in the technology industry is glaringly obvious. Despite many tech companies preaching about gender parity in marketing conferences and on social media, many are not actively practising it in the office. In most company annual reports, you’ll find that all of the executive members are men, and there are no real initiatives in place to mentor female employees.
Recognising unconscious bias
Joining a predominantly male team comes with challenges. In past situations, I’ve found that male colleagues are more inclined to trust opinions from other male team members. As a woman, I may have to provide more evidence to convey the same point, even though male team members may not realise they have this level of unconscious bias.
Female members are also often required to work much harder to prove themselves. There’s an unspoken rule that taking on administrative tasks like organising social events and note-taking should be picked up by the women in the team.
As a Business Analyst, facilitating communication between stakeholders and ensuring smooth conversations is my focus. My calendar is typically filled with meetings and informal catch-ups to discuss project groups, to share domain knowledge, compliance updates, industry trends and client feedback. This leaves very little room for voluntary admin!
How to create a level playing field in the workplace
Most organisations don’t seem to realise the unconscious bias against female workers, particularly in the recruitment and job allocations processes. Workplaces need to set and apply the same standards for everyone.
Simply recognising the successes of female workers in the same way as males can be the first step to creating a more inclusive workplace. Providing guidance and training around gender equality and bias can help to change the culture and lift female employees to the same level as their male colleagues.
Flexible working arrangements and maternity leave are great initiatives to help employees have a better work-life balance. I’ve seen some companies go above and beyond to attract and retain female talent by setting up childcare facilities or including childcare allowances in their salary.
Another way companies can keep women in their company is to start forming female mentoring or leadership trainee programs. This provides the space for senior leaders to check-in with their female mentors to regularly listen, coach, and help them grow in their career.
Championing gender equality at ELMO
At ELMO, we embrace the diversity of skills, experience, cultures and attributes that each team member – male or female – brings and shares each day. We value everyone’s uniqueness and their personal contributions in making ELMO a great place to be, engage, innovate and thrive.
We’ve also recently appointed Monica Watt as the Chief Human Resources Officer, who has always been an advocate of women in tech and female leadership. With Monica’s expertise and passion, I’m eager to see what new inclusivity initiatives will be coming up in the next few months.