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The Gender Gap in IT (and How to Address It)

The Gender Gap in IT (and How to Address It)

April 2023


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The world has made tremendous strides in the area of gender equality in recent years. Across the board, women are breaking the glass ceiling.

However, while the advancement of women’s mobility continues to move forward, some sectors are lagging behind. The IT world shows a particular reluctance to change, with a new report claiming it’s one of the most challenging areas for women to find success within the modern workplace.

Women Continue to Struggle for Representation in the IT Sector and McKinsey & Co. have released new data on the state of female employment and advancement in the IT sector, and the numbers don’t look great. The data was the latest in a rolling study between the two organizations that has been ongoing since 2015. This round of data came from 40,000 staff members out of 12 million individuals employed at 333 different businesses.

The report found that in the post-pandemic work environment, more women want to see key elements of change. This includes more opportunity and flexibility as well as a greater focus on both employee well-being and DEI initiatives. It also found that one area, in particular, was lagging behind in the gender conversation: the IT sector.

Women continue to be dramatically underrepresented in technical roles. Nearly a third of women in technical and engineering roles reported that they are “often the only woman in the room at work.” Between 2018 and 2022, the ratio of women to men self-reporting that they are in the tech field rose from 1.9 to 1 to an appalling 2.5 to 1.

The driving force behind this rise isn’t aggressive anti-female policies. The culprit is more likely to be general apathy and an engrained resistance to women in IT.

Targeting the Tech Talent Pipeline

According to the report—and in many cases, the naked eye—much of the issue behind this lack of female representation comes from the current state of the talent pipeline. Organizations simply don’t have enough women entering the talent pipeline, and things only get worse from there.

For example, the data found that women make up 41% and 32% of entry-level talent in the software and hardware technology sectors, respectively. Only 38% and 23% of first-level managers are women and women make up just 27% and 26% of C-suite members.

Commenting on the report, HR Dive highlighted return-to-work initiatives as a path that is helping some women work their way up the resistant ranks of the IT sector. But is that enough? If we’re willing to prioritize returning to work due to a pandemic, why can’t we start to find better solutions for women who have, say, taken extended maternity leave (a common workforce struggle that leaves many women unfairly overlooked and marginalized)?

HR Dive recommends tools like mentorship programs to address the gender gap. However, leadership must look beyond these basic “tried and true” solutions if they want to continue to proactively empower women in the workplace moving forward.

“Leadership must look beyond these basic “tried and true” solutions if they want to continue to proactively empower women in the workplace moving forward.”

Along with avoiding overlooking women in key areas like IT, companies must also continue to find ways to protect women who experience resistance during their upward trajectory anywhere in the workforce. Many still experience traditional bullying from their male counterparts, including verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and intimidation.

It’s important for companies to look at every hire that they make—especially in the C-suite—through the lens of gender equality. Companies should put DEI standards in place and maintain accountability as they go along. They should also take care to work with qualified executive recruiters, like our team at Stanton Chase, who are able to navigate gender in hiring with the respect and efficiency that comes from a capable third-party partner.

If you find that your company’s IT pipeline is short on female talent, start to consider how you can address the issue. If women are underrepresented in your C-suite, don’t sit and wait for external events to force your hand. Invest in equality as a way for your company to do its part in creating a more diverse and equitable workforce. The benefits of DEI initiatives are clear. All that remains is for leaders to recognize that fact and take action to enable a more fair and profitable future for all.

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About the Author

Scott Bretschneider is a Director at Stanton Chase Los Angeles. He has 32 years of executive search consulting experience, with global experience in Japan, the United States, and China.

Scott has been with Stanton Chase for two decades. He joined the company as part of the team that founded our Los Angeles offices. He then went on to lead Stanton Chase Memphis from 2014 to 2016. Thereafter, he returned to California to lead Stanton Chase San Diego as part of the Stanton Chase Pacific team. Today, he continues his successful practice in Los Angeles.

Scott graduated from Temple University in Tokyo with a B.A. in psychology, sociology, and history and started his executive search career during the telecom and advertising boom in Tokyo.

Click here to learn more about Scott.

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