“We’re seeing a real change for women in the past ten years when it comes to being able to look to role models in their industry and see what successful women look like. But what’s interesting now is that young women are finding role models among their peers, not their superiors,” says Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, Co-Found Stemettes.
Young women are joining the industry from less traditional education pathways. Previous generations may have taken a very traditional route to the industry via studying computer sciences or software engineering, now there’s a trend in the next generation of studying history or humanities and doing code on the side. This is creating a workforce that is more rounded in their education, and with different ambitions for their working life.
“I’m seeing young women coming to industry with the attitude of, ‘I don’t want to make a billion dollars, I want to solve this problem,’ or ‘I don’t want to work all the hours that god has given me, I want to log off sometimes,’ or ‘I don’t want titles and progression, I want to bring people in and along with me’. So, industry needs to be aware that the motivations that bought them into their role, is not going to be the motivations for the younger generation. Make sure you listen to what they want – don’t go the way of Kodak or Blackberry,” warns Dr Imafidon.
Funding still needs to remain a key priority, with programs needed to allow the reskilling of women into the tech workforce. Reskilling needs to remain available and viable to help meet job numbers and allow women to pivot into these roles.
“They are a different breed coming through now. They might not be invited but they will arrive, and they are coming for your jobs,” says Dr Imafidon.
There needs to be a mindset shift in tech companies when it comes to attraction and retention strategies. Organisations need to take a step back and do an honest assessment concerning things like gender balance and the overall gender gap. And then enact policies that can help address the imbalances to make the workspace more friendly for women.
“The why of women leaving the industry really comes down to culture. They haven’t been invested in, they haven’t been encouraged, they are undermined, looked over for promotions or made to feel that they aren’t working hard enough when they take time for family life. It’s death by a thousand cuts,” says Dr Imafidon.
As more women take a seat at leadership table, the needle is moving towards making workplaces and policies more adaptable to all genders, but the progress is slow which means organisations, leaders and candidates are all missing out as it stands.
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