Women in the IT Industry – how could an IT company increase its female workforce?

What’s the image that comes to your mind if you had to picture an IT company? Would it be one full of guys in their thirties wearing rock band t-shirts? That would have been my perception few weeks ago, before I started working here as a Cloud Support, Sales and Marketing Intern. Everyone would build a different picture on how an IT company looks like and the reality is, in most cases, women wouldn’t be in it.

Women have made all kinds of important contributions in the IT industry: 

  • Ada Lovelace – she created the first computer program in the 19th century.  
  • Grace Hopper – she invented computing methods and devices.  
  • Margaret Hamilton – not only did she help write some codes used on the Apollo mission, but she also developed programs, that influenced how computers work today, thereby creating the term “software engineer.”  
  • Hedy Lamarr – her idea of a secret communication system aimed at setting torpedoes off inspired the technology used for modern Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.  
  • Adele Goldberg– she was a computer scientist whose programming language Smalltalk-80 inspired the first Apple computer.  

Despite the legacy some women have left in the IT industry, it still seems to attract more men than women. Worldwide only 34% of STEM graduates are women, only 16% of women are suggested to pursue a tech career during the studies and just 17% of ICT specialist and tech workforce are women.  These numbers show a clear gender gap between male and female workforce.  

So what is actually important to consider?

With the help of my colleagues Geraldine Fricke (Cloud Business Development Manager DACH) and Birgit Sviontek (Cloud Sales and Support Agent), I came up with a list of aspect that we believe to be important to consider in order to attract more women into the IT industry.  

Discussing women in IT with my colleagues Birgit Sviontek (Cloud Sales and Support Agent) and Geraldine Fricke (Cloud Business Development Manager DACH) outside of our office.

1. Educate and integrate women into tech from a young age 

The gender gap is proven to start at school. Therefore, schools and companies in the IT industry should try to promote the STEM studies in a way that gets the attention of both boys and girls. 

Let’s go back to the stereotype of an IT guy. We must break these stereotypes and start showing the different faces of the industry. This can be achieved by partnering with schools and creating career programs. Allow girls to dive into the IT world, talk to women working in the industry and raise awareness about the range of opportunities that wait for them in their future careers.  

2. Marketing tech roles 

The wording, the requirements and the overall feeling of the company’s culture is going to be crucial in order to get more female candidates.  

Pay attention to the wording used when writing a job description. Avoid using adjectives like ‘high-powered’, ‘action oriented’ and ‘result driven’. Instead, use words that encourage collaboration and not competition like ‘adaptable’ and ‘creative’. Looking back to when I apply for a job at Resello, one of the things that attracted me the most was the fact that it described a ‘creative team’, which for me was something new regarding the IT industry. Likewise, I presented myself in the application with adjectives like ‘easy-going’, ‘flexible’ and ‘hard working’.

According to the website women in tech, if a woman has the feeling that her skills and experience do not match 90% to the job description, she is not going to apply. Try to minimize the requirements to the most essential ones.  

Women want to be in an inclusive, open and growth driven environment. Showing that your company culture is driven by more than competition and profit maximization is going to attract more female candidates. Therefore, do not only offer job opportunities. Show that there are self- and professional-growth opportunities in your company, be open minded and try to create an open and relaxed company culture, where women feel comfortable about speaking their minds.

For our company for instance, our HR-department is currently connecting with each colleague individually, to see how our company can encourage everyone to learn and grow new skills that match company and personal career goals. 

3. Equal benefits

This is not the typical ‘there is a gender pay gap’ point of view. We think it is important to go beyond the payment aspect. First, the payment, regardless of the industry or gender, must represent the person’s worth, education level and experience. A company that recognizes the worth of their employees and is seen as ‘fair’, is most probably going to attract more female candidates.  

So many people think ‘equal benefits’ actions aim to improve women’s work life, but no. Women do not want to be treated special just because they are women. It’s not a secret that women often get a longer parental leave. But why? This only puts pressure on women. Men are professionally growing, while we stay at home and must choose between personal and work life. Providing equal benefits, like equal time for parental leave for both men and women, could take this pressure away.  

4. Flexibility

Flexibility in the workplace is all about balance between personal and work life. One of the biggest concerns as a woman in my twenties is the fact that I would like someday to start a family but at the same time, I do not want to sacrifice my career. How often have I heard sayings like ‘If you want kids before your thirties say goodbye to your professional life’.  

Birgit considers the IT industry a step ahead in this matter. By offering flexible work times and sometimes even the opportunity to choose your own workplace (even country), women can better balance personal and work life.  

To summarize

I have just been working at Resello for a couple of weeks, but I’m surprise and proud to see how they try their best to implement the tips above, with the purpose of diversifying the company and keeping the company culture inclusive and open. These has resulted in an almost equal number of men and women being part of the Resello Family. We encourage you to do the same! If you have any comments or question about this topic, don’t hesitate to hit me with a message via LinkedIn.