Is Gender Gap In Tech Industry Getting Any Better

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 23, 2017

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The under-representation of women in the technology sector has been a cause of concern in the industry since long and even though there’s enough evidence and research that suggests that having more females in teams fosters innovation, creativity, productivity and results in more revenue, in reality the numbers continue to be abysmally low. A recent study on women’s representation in the sector conducted by Belong.co on ‘The Gender Gap in the Tech Industry in India’ found that there is one woman engineer for three men engineers, leading to the fact that the Indian technology industry has just 26 per cent women in engineering roles. [Read the full report here]

The survey was done with IT companies with over 50 employees and the data was collected from around three lakh women. This reinforces the assumption that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) jobs attract fewer women, the survey added.  Here are some of the key findings of the study.

Men move into managerial roles faster

The study analyzed the career trajectories of techies who moved into managerial positions and data says men on an average transition to managerial positions after 6+ years of experience while women on an average transition to these roles after 8+ years of experience. Once again, confirming that the glass ceiling is after all not an illusion.

Nearly 50% women engineers quit tech

Belong researchers looked at a sample set of women graduating from Tier 1 universities from 2005-2009 and found that as many as 45% of women move out of core engineering roles after close to 8 years. After quitting engineering, these women mostly move to marketing, product management or consulting.

Testing has 33% more women compared to core engineering

Among the tech talent in India, there are more women in software testing roles (a less sought after skill) compared to core programming roles. This is the case even though the absolute number of jobs in software testing are significantly less than programming, said the study, which found that for every 100 testing jobs, there were 34 women compared to 66 men. When it came to hardcore programming roles, the ratio changed to 25 : 75. Only 7% women reach the C-Suite

It also analyzed the career trajectories of women to see how they progress in their careers over the years. We found that if 29% women start working in a given year, the percentage drops to a dismal 7% after 12 years. Here’s how the drop off looks like through the first 12 years of a professional’s career.

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The biggest drop-off in pure numbers is after the first five years. One obvious reason for this could be that women often take a break to start a family around this time in their lives, and many do not return to the workforce. Many IT stalwarts have been taking initiatives to ‘bring back’ these women. 

Researchers looked at the companies with the best gender diversity numbers and tried to understand what they were doing to attract and retain female tech talent. Here are the 5 ITES companies with the best gender diversity numbers:

Most companies have a diversity mandate and run a slew of initiatives to attract female tech talent. From female hiring drives to leadership development programmes to ‘bringing the women back’ initiatives to special incentives to refer female candidates, Indian IT companies are using innovative techniques to hire and retain female tech talent.

Roopa Wilson, who leads the Diversity and Inclusion function for IBM India, talked about how after analyzing their attrition data they found that women typically quit between the age groups of 25-32. “This is typically the time when women are either getting married or starting a family. We found that if women stay on after the age of 32, there is no stopping them,” she was quoted on Belong research blog.

IBM worked with the professors of IIM-B and found that if women could build a ‘career identity’ before this period, they were much more equipped to handle the demands of their personal and professional lives.

“We have started a program to help build a strong career identity for young talent. We identify women with high potential and enroll them in a nine-month program where they get to interact with senior women in leadership roles and exchange ideas,” she said.

Adobe, which ranks among the top 5 companies with the best diversity numbers among the product companies in India, has worked on building an inclusive interview panel to foster a fair assessment process, the study report said.

Hence, even though there is a huge gap in the IT industry, the study shows that there have been initiatives by many big companies to tap these lost talents and ‘bring back’ these women.

The silver lining is, from leadership development programmes and special incentives to refer women candidates, Indian IT companies are using innovative techniques to hire and retain tech talent, it added.