Workplace diversity in the technology industry continues to be a hot and critical topic, and reasonably so. Studies have proven time and again that a diverse team can out-perform less diverse groups, with their varied experiences and different ways of thinking which just scratch the surface of reasons.
Still, we continue to see research and articles about all industries failing in minimizing the gap for women. In fact, according to the 2018 Women in the Workplace report recently released by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, not a whole lot of progress has been made in recent years. The Muse summarized these seven facts directly from that report:
Men Hold 62% of Manager Positions to Women’s 38% (and it Gets Worse Higher Up)
Women Are Less Likely to Have Access to Senior Leaders
Women Are Twice as Likely to Be Mistaken for Much More Junior Employees and More Likely to Deal with Discrimination
Women Are Far More Likely to Be “Onlys” and Suffer More for it When They Are
35% of Women in Full-Time Corporate Sector Jobs Have Experienced Sexual Harassment
Women Negotiate for Raises and Promotions as Often as Men Do
Women Are More Likely to See Gender as an Obstacle to Advancement
We encourage you to read the complete report for more details, but these simple one-liners make it clear — there is still more work to do.
One person putting in significant work to dismantle barriers to equality is Melinda Gates. She wrote an inspiring article for Fast Company about Pivotal Ventures, an organization she started that studies gender gaps in industries and looks for ways to invest for catalytic impact.
As Gates points out, venture capitalists have significant pull in who will be the tech leaders of tomorrow. Shockingly, she learned that they have a rather narrow idea of who those innovators should be, with women founders receiving only 2% of VC dollars! Her solution: have more women doing the funding.
Pivotal Ventures is not meant to be philanthropical and instead, Gates says she is putting her money where her mouth is and invests in funds led by women and people of colour. Rather than a grant or hand-out, she is confident in their potential and expects strong returns.
Overcoming the Barriers on an Individual Level
As great as it is to see somebody like Melinda Gates investing in a few women entrepreneurs, it’s not helpful if you’re battling in technology and/or leadership positions today. For some inspiration, have a look at this other article from Fast Company. It highlights different stories of now successful female executives who overcame various forms of discrimination. Every time they were underestimated, they became more motivated. For example:
Lana Crystal and Lindsey Andrews were referred to as “Silly little girls” when they cofounded Minibar Delivery. It has since raised $6.8 million and expanded into 37 markets.
Becky Clements was shut out of meetings with talent at a production company after doing all the leg work to make them happen. Today, she is president of Tomorrow Studios and produces shows for TNT and Netflix.
It might be obvious that the sources referenced in this post are US-based, but it’s not to say these issues are not relevant in Canada, albeit some organizations and regions may be better than others. Do you feel your current environment has a positive grip on diversity?