One of the biggest challenges the tech world currently faces is coming up with new ways to narrow the gender gap that exists at big tech companies, both in executive positions and programming. Tearing down inclusion barriers is key to create a world we are excited about.
The lack of diversity in executive positions and programming is a noteworthy problem because it means that these voices and their invaluable insights are not being heard. Change is taking time. According to some studies, the stats for women who earn degrees in computer science are still pretty low. The numbers are even lower for young women who choose to go into computing jobs and even worse for executive positions in Silicon Valley companies.
But while the talent is out there, it needs to be lured out of its hiding place and nurtured and seduced with a brighter future for a more diverse tech world. One with possibilities for young women with an interest in fields like programming.
The Importance of Tearing Down Inclusion Barriers
Leveling the playfield in technology and creating a future we can be excited about has a lot to do with tearing down inclusion barriers that have allowed a pretty homogeneous group of people to occupy the big offices at tech companies for years. These barriers have kept others from reaching their full potential and holding progress back.
According to Monique Morrow, president and co-founder of Humanized Internet, it’s more important than ever for people in the technology world to make sure their teams are “diverse in thought and reflect the recipients or benefactors of the technology”. Emphasizing that it’s important to shine a light not only on women, “but also people of color and various diverse backgrounds via film, social media”.
More diverse teams not only serve better an organizations’ clients but they can help prevent unconscious bias within programming and even AI. (Think about recent controversies about facial recognition programs racial biases due to the homogenous team of programmers who trained the algorithm.)
So it’s critical that organizations make Diversity and Inclusion a real priority and set specific interventions to overcome implicit biases when hiring and promoting.
The Rise of Remote Work as a Way to Breaking Down Diversity and Inclusion Barriers
Remote work is among the many ways in which technology has made life easier. There are some simpler, positive aspects of working from home, but there’s more to it than comfort or avoiding long commutes and traffic. A remote workforce can also play a critical role in tearing down social, geographic and physical barriers, making it easier for more diverse teams to come together naturally and for team leaders to avoid any issues of predisposition they may consciously or unconsciously have.
Working remotely also creates job opportunities for people who in the past would not have been considered for the role. It pays no mind to location and allows a special flexibility in schedules that, in many ways, is unique to our day and age. This also makes it possible to focus on the work that’s being delivered and the proficiency of employees.
For women who take up on the role of primary caregiver of their families, remote work can open a world of possibilities and make it easier for them to grow and compete in the fast-evolving tech world.
Digital Fluency and Alternative Recruitment
While women are still fighting for their much deserved spot in the world of tech, the tools and initiatives to tear down barriers and help companies operate outside the stereotypes are becoming more readily available. Finally, the recruitment process has started to change to give way to a more inclusive workforce.
Increasing number of companies have adopted automated processes in recruitment, employing algorithms that eliminate biases. These programs overlook variables like gender, past titles, years of experience and even names and last names making it possible for candidates to be hired based on skills alone. Companies like tilr.com go as far as skipping the interviewing process to provide its clients with background and skill ratings of their hires.
This makes it paramount for women to work on honing their tech skills and mastering “digital fluency”. The extent to which women can comfortably embrace new technologies plays a key role in narrowing the gender gap. Female leaders can and have thrived in the business, but education is key in the process of reaching those spots.
A future we wish to have
Creating a more inclusive workforce is, not surprisingly, a crucial aspect of creating a world we are excited about. Until there’s a better balance in the world of tech, the views, opinions and needs of a considerable part of the population (half in the case of women) will continue to be ignored in a digital era that needs them.
However, there’s hope. Hope in education, platforms and companies that have what it takes to change and inspire change in others. With opportunities being created in spite of how easy it may be to feel hopeless sometimes. It’s a process. An ongoing fight.
Morrow sees opportunities in spite of how easy it may be to “paint a dystopian world”, and she seems to feel optimistic about the future of young women in tech in fields like healthcare, cybersecurity and privacy: “There is so much to do and I am personally excited about the possibilities to truly create the world we wish to have not the one we would like to avoid!”
Aline Cerdan Verástegui
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