Women In Technology: Why It’s Good For Everyone

Women In Technology: Why It’s Good For Everyone

I’m heading to Ireland soon to take part in the IT@Cork European Technology Summit. The conference is ambitious for certain and will be tackling hot issues from the Cloud, STEM, Digital Media and The Future Of Talent, with top-tier guests from industry leaders, such as VMware, and bright lights in tech education, such as CIT.

I’m speaking on a benchmark panel (and a digital marketing one too with a different angle) talking about gender diversity in technology and business. And just to get this straight: gender diversity is business. To keep the private and public sectors going is going to take a bigger and broader talent pool. And while I look forward to the day when I don’t have to get on the soapbox for the STEM sisterhood — because it’s just a given — we’ve got work to do.

Here are four key tasks we’ve got to tackle:

1. Diversity Is Good For Business

McKinsey reports that companies in the top quartile in terms of racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more like to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and that those in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely. Makes sense: this is a global, multigenerational, hyper-connected world of work. It’s also highly competitive and in need of all the talent we can find.

2. Broaden The Talent Pipeline

If there isn’t enough talent being developed in schools, there won’t be skilled candidates graduating. Strategic partnerships between schools and businesses mean schools can help. It’s already working in Ireland. One stellar initiative in Cork teams up universities and technical schools with the private and public sector: business identifies skills gaps, and course are created in response. Another program I love: Smarter Placements, in which business sign up to provide female students with some invaluable work experience and mentorship.

3. De-Brogram The Culture

Pardon the pun (it’s not just a guy thing), but I’m serious. From the workplace to marketing, tech’s generic face isn’t exactly gender neutral. The recent lawsuit that brought Silicon Valley into the news exposed tech’s very challenging environment for women. Regardless of what you may think of the jury decision, the veil’s off. Yet here are two surprising facts: women are the lead adopters of technology, and Dow Jones found that successful startups have more women in senior positions than unsuccessful ones.

4. Put Our Money Where — You Know The Rest

It’s an old adage that never fails. That’s why programs like Girls Who Code, with its clubs and summer immersion programs, are going to pay off in spades. It might seem cute and pink, but this is heady stuff: robotics, web design, mobile development, and great mentorship. Google’s invest some 50 million in programs like this. Smart move.

We all know that mindsets — and skillsets — start early, before college, and that sometimes all it takes to capture the imagination of some bright young schoolgirl is knowing that there’s a place for her to aim for. But if business is on board — because that’s the only way to fix the problem of not having enough STEM talent to succeed, it’s a win win. I’m off to Cork, Ireland soon, I can’t wait to take part.