Tech is sexist – let’s do more than just hire women

tech women
Image by Vector Point Studio | Bigstockphoto

The tech industry is no stranger to sexism. From “brogrammer” culture to the lack of women in leadership positions, it’s clear that the industry has a long way to go in terms of gender equality.

As a result, the solutions that the tech industry creates are often not designed with women in mind. There’s an inherent bias in the industry that leads to products and services that are not as effective for women as they are for men.

For example, many health and fitness apps don’t take into account the unique needs of women’s bodies, and many workplace productivity tools are geared towards male-dominated work environments.

This is a major problem, considering that women make up half of the world’s population. However, the answer is not simply men assuming what women need or want. Instead, it’s important for the tech industry to take an intersectional approach to design that includes women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The benefits? Not only will this make the tech industry more inclusive, but it will also lead to products and services that are more effective for everyone. In fact, it has been established that when women are included in the design and development process of technology, the resulting products are more likely to be successful.

Even more relevant for companies, it’s also a smart business move – studies have shown that businesses with diverse teams are more innovative and profitable. Diversity, when taken into consideration, can be a major competitive advantage.

A 2021 study by McKinsey found that gender equality has a strong link to the company’s financial performance. In fact, companies with more women in executive roles are 25% more likely to be profitable.

Taking gender equality further

But to take tech even further in terms of gender equality, it needs to become more inclusive of women across the board. This includes everything from the way products are designed and developed, to the way that women are marketed to. Solutions and innovations need to be taken apart, and put back together with women in mind.

For starters, companies can make a deliberate effort to hire more women. This can be done by implementing unconscious bias training, setting hiring quotas, and partnering with organizations that focus on recruiting women in tech.

Pipeline Equity, for instance, is a company that provides APIs into the HR systems of its users so that when enterprises make decisions about hiring, pay, performance, potential and promotion, those decisions run through the platform’s algorithms, and the Pipeline system recommends an action.

Pipeline’s tools can flag bias in areas such as job descriptions, performance reviews, and promotion decisions. This is crucial in order to create a level playing field for all employees, regardless of their gender.

Companies can also create an inclusive culture that values diversity and encourages women to stay in the industry. This can be done by ensuring that women have a seat at the table, offering flexible work arrangements, and providing mentorship and networking opportunities.

Making tech more inclusive of women

Recently, the Philippines-based QBO Innovation Hub launched the Startup Pinay initiative, which aims to make the local startup ecosystem more inclusive of women. Through this initiative, QBO provides training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to Filipina entrepreneurs, and aims to reshape the startup landscape to be more welcoming of women.

“We are raising awareness on gender and diversity issues in the industry through Filipino women influencers and their social media feeds,” explained Katrina Rausa Chan, Executive Director of QBO Innovation Hub.

“We are educating our community on the root cause and consequences of the underrepresentation of Filipino women in STEM. Then, we get Filipino women and allies alike to actively rally for representation in tech by providing immediate opportunities. Instead of holding us back, we are using the algorithm to scale up.”

Finally, governments and policy-makers can play a role in ensuring that the tech industry becomes more inclusive of women. This can be done by investing in initiatives that support girls and women in tech, implementing quotas for women on boards, and providing tax incentives for companies that invest in gender equality.

Related article: How women are humanising remote working in Asia in the ‘new normal’

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