Why Gender Diversity In Tech Matters

Diverse development team - Newxel

Diversity in tech shows how open companies are to something new and different. Organizations with a diverse workforce are more inclined to offer a greater variety of solutions to different problems, as employees with different backgrounds bring new talents, knowledge and skills. 

The findings of the study by Morgn Stanley, show that a more diverse workplace deliver better results and better returns with less volatility. In the tech world, one of the biggest issues in terms of diversity is a lack of female workers. The level of female employment and leadership in tech is quite alarming, and it isn’t only an ethical issue anymore, but also an economic one. Moreover, it should be addressed by the leaders in the IT field, in whose hands lies the power to balance gender representation, and their example and persistent management should pave the way into the right direction.

Diversity is not how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness. – Ola Joseph

Our company pays a lot of attention to this issue, so we talked with Andrey Bezruchko, CEO and Co-Founder of Newxel:

Additional team motivation is a hot topic nowadays since every company offers all kinds of perks to attract and motivate workers. With that said, the truth is, you can’t surprise an IT-engineer with a cool ping-pong table, a private gym, or a luxury lounge anymore. It’s all good, of course, but obviously not enough.

Another issue that’s widely discussed, and that has a huge impact on how a team functions is the diversity within a team and within a company. Not just nationalities, religions and even age, but also when it comes down to gender.

A couple of years ago, I was managing the R&D center of a big european company. We needed to expand, and that was when I came across several CVs submitted by female candidates. At that point, most of the workers of the team were male. I figured, adding women to the team would positively affect the dynamics, even if the new colleagues aren’t as skilled and experienced as my team. This is how we added two new team members: one of the women started working as a senior developer, the other headed the support department.

At first, it was funny how the guys were trying to be more civilized and show initiative. Also, the new way of thinking introduced by the female coworkers changed the way problems were solved and the general approach. However, it was a positive change.

Working in a diverse environment, with different people, with different views and ways of thinking, is much more interesting and challenging, in a good way. Which is why I’m sure we will achieve our goal of creating a working environment that is diverse and inspiring for every single team member.

Women and IT

Recent studies show that pre-teen girls are as interested in math and science as boys. However, as they grow up, they are less and less exposed to these fields. But the truth is, early education and exposure to computer science are vital for balancing the workforce in the IT field.

“In the long run, diverse teams will outperform homogeneous teams,” says Bruce Maas, vice provost and information technology and chief information officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Men and women sometimes view problems differently and bring different strengths, so having more equal representation on teams also helps reduce risks and blind spots.”

Jason Zurawski, science engagement engineer with the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), notes: “The tech workplace can’t be the realm of a single sex or race. It needs participants to be as diverse as the problems they are trying to solve. To stay competitive, our field must innovate, and the only way we can truly be innovative is to encourage as many viewpoints as possible to fully understand problems and come up with novel solutions.”

“Not caring about this issue means ignoring a majority of high quality workers and missing the diverse insights that they might provide. Gender diversity is both a pipeline issue and a productivity (through creativity, effectivity, and efficiency) issue”, says John Kolb, vice president for information services and technology and chief information officer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Practical reasons to bring in more women into the tech sphere

  • IT and tech in general is a field that is constantly growing. In the US alone, there are over 500,000 open tech jobs, and that number is expected to double by 2022. These vacancies cannot be filled by representatives of only one gender.  
  • There are positive developments in Ukraine. According to statistics compiled by the Kyiv Post, in Ukrainian IT companies the number of women professionals has grown dramatically in recent years. On average, female technicians form between 17% and 20% of the personnel in Ukrainian technology companies, but over the past couple of years, positive dynamics has been observed in this indicator. In “nontechnical” departments of IT-companies, this share is even higher. 
  • The number of female students in IT-related specialties is also growing, but not too fast. For example, in the CPI at the Faculty of Computer Science and Computer Engineering 12.4% of students for the 2014-2015 academic year are girls. 
  • One of the main problems associated with gender inequality in IT is wage imbalance. According to a DOU.ua survey from May 2014, Java developers in Kiev are paid an average of about $ 3,460 (if that’s a man) and $ 3,375 (if that’s a woman), Python developers $ 2,400 and $ 1,800 respectively. Of course, there are exceptions when a female specialist is paid more, but the general trend remains. On average, the salary of male developers is 15.5% higher.
  • Despite the fact that the share of women in the technology industry in the world is gradually growing, this figure remains low. According to the DOU.ua research, in Ukraine, only 14.3% of women work in IT-companies (data of 2015).
  • If we take a look at the economy, most of the highest-paying tech jobs are held by men, while most of the lowest-paying tech jobs are held by women. Working in tech would allow women to reach the same economic level as men.

Aside from that, having women on a team simply improves the quality of group decision making, helps productivity grow and encourages innovation. The teams work better, and consequently, employee engagement improves and worker satisfaction increases. The company and its reputation wins too – it shows that the company is interested in driven, talented women and is able to appreciate their role in their hierarchy. At the same time, it will create more female role models and leaders.