Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos are all founders at some of the most influential tech companies. Another thing they share is that they are all men.
There are many female founders, including Melanie Perkins of Canva, Sandy Lerner of Cisco, and Mira Murati (CTO of OpenAI), creator of the highly-acclaimed ChatGPT. However, there is still a large gender gap in the technology industry.
This is due to many systemic factors. Access to up to 3% on bank loans
UNECE's findings were valid. The environment for accessing finance was rated as poor or worse by less than 25% of respondents. Many people self-fund their homes or borrow money from their families.
Women are a majority at VC firms. PitchBook reports that only 1.9% of $238.3B in venture capital was allocated to all-women teams.
Access to flexible work hours and childcare are two other factors that hinder women's progress. McKinsey, LeanIn.Org identified the "broken rung" workplace phenomenon.
This refers to the problem in which women are promoted at lower rates to managerial positions than men. Only 86 women are promoted for every 100 men who reach the managerial level. This creates a problem that is difficult to fix and leaves fewer women in leadership roles.
Research has shown that women are less likely to apply for startups than men. The study also found that women make up less than 15% in startups than men. This is a problem because women who aren't in the majority of these organizations are nearly 30% less likely than men to apply.
Yuval Engel, who is the principal author of the research, and a professor at University of Amsterdam, discusses how this can be made systemic in startups.
Founders make hiring decisions, rather than hiring professionals. These founders tend to recruit from their own networks and don't invest in formalised policies or procedures to avoid bias.
It is easy to see why women may choose not to apply for jobs at small, male-dominated tech startups. There is no quick solution to this multifaceted problem. Opportunities. There are many things they can do to evaluate a company's gender diversity at every stage, pre-application and during interview.
Check the website. While it is unlikely that all employees will appear on the site, senior positions should. Examine the gender split: Are there women working there? If so, what kind of roles are they playing?
Take a look at the company's social media pages, especially its LinkedIn business page. What employees are listed there? And what percentage of them are women and men? A good way to determine if the company is ranked on reports of 'best workplaces'.
Another key indicator that a workplace supports diversity is the establishment of diversity and inclusion policies (D&I) as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG), policies.
This means that the organisation thinks strategically and understands the importance of women in its workforce. Companies in the top 25% of racial diversity and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely generate higher revenues.
Boston Consulting Group's study supports this assertion. It found that diversity in management teams is associated with innovation. Companies with lower-than-average leadership diversity are more successful than those that have.
It's acceptable to ask questions about diversity in a company during an interview. It is a good idea to frame your questions around existing policies. D&I and ESG journeys don't end with one, but they continue to evolve.
Ask about the progress made so far and the next steps. If you receive blank stares, it's likely that this is not a priority. Ask if any employee resource groups (ERGs), are in place. Microsoft's Women at Microsoft ERG, for example, has the mission to recruit, retain, develop, and support women all over the globe.
Last but not least, remember this: If you have the experience and qualifications, you can be in this space. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a former associate justice on the US Supreme Court, said it best.
All places where decisions are made belong to women. Women shouldn't be the exception.
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