It’s nothing short of gut-wrenching to know that women remain underpaid and under-represented in tech. The gender gap is a multifaceted issue requiring leadership action, systemic change and an intense re-engineering of the culture to truly shift these deep set biases.
But what can be done at ground level?
Here are 5 ways you can start to bridge the gender gap as a woman in tech
Firstly, you‘re already doing one crucial thing. And that is – being a woman in tech.
1. Representing women in tech roles
One of the biggest things that impacts young girls developing an interest in STEM subjects at school is the representation of women in the industry. Without positive female representation in tech roles, these industries do not feel welcoming to young girls. They do not appear to hold space for girls. The door already feels closed.
A 2023 report on STEM industries in Australia found that the proportion of women in senior high school courses had barely moved since the 22% reported in 2013, aside from a brief upward uptick in 2020.
Where you can, talk to your daughters and to young girls in your family and friendship circle about what you do for work. Creating positive associations early can start to open that door of possibility.
2. Embrace mentorship
Mentorship can provide invaluable support while trying to counter the overwhelming “bro-culture” that exists in many tech workplaces to this day.
A recent article by Marne Martin, CSO and President at IFS, reports that 75% of women in technology who had strong role models/mentors remained at their company.
The mentor-mentee relationship is often a mutually beneficial one – providing a professional sounding board, fresh perspective and positivity to both individuals. So, find a mentor, or go be one!
Read more about mentorship, the benefits, and how to find one here.
3. Contact your local representatives about the importance of gender-gap issues
High level change on this issue is going to be largely dependent on our policymakers. Recently published CAP article What Barbie can teach us about the gender wage gap states that their critical role involves creating pathways for more women to enter and stay in male-dominated occupations, including through investing in child care, creating pathways into STEM education, and ensuring these jobs are safe and free from harassment.
Stay abreast of local legislative measures related to crucial topics, like pay equity. Contact your representatives and tell them how important it is that they support these measures.
4. Apply for that job. Ask for that promotion.
A 2019 research paper by Frontiers in Psychology showed that when it came to getting promoted, men just needed to show potential, while women had to prove performance.
That is an infuriating reality. It pleads the case that, in environments not created to support our progression, we must all learn to advocate for ourselves in a big way.
So, when the next opportunity presents itself, do not hesitate in putting yourself out there. If you know you have the skills and the experience, go for it with everything you’ve got. If you achieve something at work, make it known to those who matter. There is no room for playing coy in this game. Stand tall and find the confidence to proudly take up space.
5. Create or join a support community with your colleagues
Foster a safe space for conversation and reflection. Create a community you can reach out to in times of uncertainty. Develop connections in your workplace with other women in tech roles, but also through Linkedin and via professional networking events and memberships (like Girls in Tech!).
As a community we can learn so much from each other’s experiences, carry burdens together and share valuable perspectives. There is so much to gain and learn from connecting with your peers.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – we’re stronger together!