It is no secret that technical professions are still predominantly practised by men. IT companies in particular have a hard time attracting women to their sector and retaining them in the long term. Not even one in five employees in the IT sector is a woman, although the technology sector is one of the most future-oriented industries. But how can companies in the IT sector counteract this and ensure a higher quota of women in the future? We will show you in the following!
Gender roles in the world of work
The IT sector in particular has developed into a male-dominated world of work. In the 80s, programming was still a typical female job. At that time, it was more about hard work for office workers with a rather low status, but women were the first programmers!
Grace Hopper, who worked with the world's first all-electric computer, was one of the pioneers of computer science. The term "bug" comes from her. She is also responsible for the invention of the compiler. She believed that women were better suited for coding. Her argument:
"You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so that it is ready when you need it. You can only do that with patience and an eye for detail. Women are naturals at programming.
Of course, gender roles in the world of work were different in the past than they are today. Women were often responsible for the household and were allowed to do menial, if only minor, work. Of course, this classic distribution has not existed for a long time, but Grace Hopper's insight has nevertheless been somewhat forgotten, and there are still industries that are described as "male-typical" or "female-typical".
Only just under 18% of employees in the IT sector in Germany today are women (source: Business Insider). Of women with a degree in IT, only 20% still work in this field at the age of 30. This is according to a report by the Centre of Competence for Technology Diversity and Equal Opportunities.
But what is the reason for this?
Lack of women in the IT industry: the reasons
It may not be due to the working conditions in this industry, as more than every second employee is satisfied with their work-life balance in an IT company. The job offer also offers enough potential. So what is the real reason?
Missing promotion of interests
One reason for the current lack of women in the industry could be related to upbringing and schooling. If interests are not encouraged in childhood, they are lost. It is probably still the case in Germany that boys should have more to do with technical toys than girls. Sad, but true! There is also a lack of technical offers in many schools, which could probably help more girls to discover their interest in this field.
Clichéd reputation of the IT industry
Another hurdle may be the stereotypical reputation of IT in the public eye. According to this, IT is still seen as a male-only industry, consisting mostly of nerds who programme day and night and never see the light of day.
Missing role models
Moreover, women often lack role models in this field. When you think of successful men in the IT sector, Marc Zuckerberg or Elon Musk come to mind, who are still active in this field today. In the case of women, Marie Curie or Lisa Meitner are more likely to be seen in the past than in the present.
Too high male quota in the workplace
Perhaps the surplus of men in the workplace may also be a reason why so few women still want to work in the IT sector.
Gender gap in payment
Probably the most crucial point is pay. In Germany, there is a wage difference of 18% between men and women in the IT sector. In other words, female project managers earn an average of €60,000 per year, while men earn €11,600 more.
Women in the IT industry: That's why we need them!
Well, now we have made it clear that the IT industry needs more women. But why is that? Or is this simply about the number of women quota?
Again, there are several reasons:
The strength of mixed teams
An important point for many companies is the strength of mixed teams. They can not only contribute to a better working atmosphere, but also increase productivity. Why? Women often have very different approaches to certain things. They often bring new creative ideas and different perspectives to the company.
Higher turnover through diversity
Companies with higher gender diversity have comparatively better returns than competitors with low diversity. If companies manage not only to recruit women but also to retain them in the long term, they automatically ensure a competitive advantage, which in turn can then be attributed to the strengths of the mixed teams.
New perspectives for the company
Men and women often have a different perspective and angle on things. Creative ideas can lead to more innovative solutions to problems that improve performance at the overall company level.
Supporting women in the IT industry
Even though the quota of women in IT companies is a fundamental problem, the number of women in leading positions in the industry has increased in the last 2 years. Nevertheless, the majority of the team often consists of men. Similarly, women often seem to have the impression that men advance faster in their company than women.
So it is up to companies to make the industry more attractive to women. We have summarised some points that can help recruit more women:
Communicate more female role models
IT companies should especially show their female employees. Show that you are proud of your female professionals. With the help of mentoring programmes or cooperation with schools or universities, you can show women and girls that STEM can also be female and that girls are also allowed to calculate, research, programme and construct! The representation of the company already starts at trade fairs. Show your female employees from different departments. In order to attract more women to the IT sector in the future, we need role models and strong women with leadership responsibility as role models in the sector.
Promotion and further education
Potential female applicants are often unaware of how exciting IT jobs can actually be. New job profiles in IT are created on a regular basis. The best way to show what opportunities are available in your own company is to present them live. Programmes to promote young talent or cooperation with non-profit organisations that organise events such as "Girl's Day" can be a good measure for companies.
Kommunizieren der Benefits (Work-Life-Balance, Familienfreundlich)
As mentioned above, female employees in the IT sector say that they are very satisfied with their work-life balance. That this is becoming an increasingly important criterion nowadays is nothing new. This is precisely why companies in the sector should communicate this aspect in order to recruit more women. Of course, one should always remain honest! Besides a good work-life balance, it is important for many women to be able to combine family and career. As a company, develop measures that make this possible and communicate this openly.
Many IT professions are unknown to women and largely dominated by men and therefore seem rather less attractive. Mentoring programmes can support newcomers in this field and give them a certain amount of security. Intensive induction by a:n mentor:in, workshops or even internal/external training can make many IT professions more appealing to women.
Active recruiting of women
Actively reach out to women. According to a study by Recuriting Trends, female employees in particular like it when social media is used for recruitment. It is also a good way to reach out to potential female candidates at colleges or universities.
More engagement at education level
A very good option is to take a step back, into the universities and schools and show there what career opportunities the IT industry can offer. Internships, mentoring, career coaching or help with networking are also other ways to better support women entering the tech and IT world.
Even though IT companies have set themselves the goal of increasing the proportion of women in their company, women are still heavily outnumbered and unfortunately often still experience discrimination or disadvantages. Therefore, empowering women in our industry is a necessary task for the coming years!
At Appmatics, we are happy to say that our quota of women is growing steadily. In the field of testing alone, we have a large number of female students with a great interest in digital applications. And also in management positions, the male-female ratio is balanced with 3 women and 3 men. Our UI/UX and marketing departments even consist exclusively of women. Overall, we currently have a distribution of 149 men and 73 women at Appmatics.
We are definitely proud of our female power in the company and look forward to all the other women interested in IT joining our team in the coming years!