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Biggest Career Hurdles Women Tech Professionals Face in 2022 and How to Overcome Them

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Our society has often instructed women on what they can and cannot say, which careers to pursue and where to belong. Despite the changing world, technological advancements, and progress in living standards, women still face many obstacles in their professional lives. For example, in the tech industry, women have historically been underrepresented and remain an untapped resource, even in today’s advanced business landscape. Despite their percentage climbing from 23%—24% over a decade ago to 34% in 2021 in India, the barriers women face in the tech industry are notably different from those men face.


With several examples from across the globe, within and beyond business, it is clear that when women rise, we all win! And it is now time for women to take charge of their careers, build confidence, gain skills, and ace any role they set their mind to. However, before getting into the methods to overcome the hurdles, we must understand them and how deeply rooted they are in today’s workplaces.


  1. Prevailing gender imbalance

According to Skillsoft’s 2022 Women in Tech Report, a majority (66%) of women work in organizations where men outnumbered women in leadership roles at ratios of 2:1 or greater ratios. This percentage is even higher (72%) for women working in tech companies. Due to this prevailing gender imbalance, women are often left behind when securing managerial and leadership roles.


  1. Lack of equity in opportunities

Extrapolating from their lack of strength in numbers, it is not surprising that 47% of women in tech roles feel that opportunities in employment and advancement are skewed toward men. Women are assumed to be less capable than men of taking up projects and leading teams. Many believe they have to work harder to prove themselves yet are often overlooked for promotion or when assigning critical IT projects.


  1. Lack of equity in pay 

According to the same Women in Tech Report 2022, about 43% of women in tech cite a lack of equity in income as their biggest hurdle at work. Unfortunately, the pay gap increases as they advance in their careers. The Glass Ceiling— Leadership Gender Balance in NSE 200 Companies’ by IIM Ahmedabad’s Arun Duggal ESG Centre for Research and Innovation found that while women at individual contributor levels earn only 2.2% less than men working in similar roles, the gap widens to 3.1% for managers/supervisors and 4.9—6.1% for Directors and senior executives.


  1. Fewer women in STEM

Not just at the workplace, but an imbalance exists at the education stage itself. While the number of women in STEM courses has increased, with around 43% of STEM graduates being women, only 14% of technologists, scientists, and engineers are women. The primary reason is fewer women role models and examples to follow. Lack of mentorship is another contributing factor, which, if provided, could bring about much positive change.


To create more opportunities for women tech professionals and their career progress, consider the following:


  1. Build future-ready skills

Skillsoft research has shown that women value professional development; 52% cite opportunities for professional development/training as one of the most important benefits offered by their organizations. In the era of artificial intelligence, investing time in upskilling and reskilling will open doors to better opportunities and career progression. It will also prevent duplication, thereby making women tech professionals more valuable in terms of the concepts and innovative methods they can contribute. Learning and development initiatives must be planned so that women at all organizational levels can access the tools and visibility they need to hone their existing abilities and create new ones. These learning opportunities also empower women to take ownership of their careers and build organizational cultures of equity, inclusion and belonging.


  1. Build meaningful connections

The most noteworthy thing women can do is develop meaningful connections and support systems in the form of mentors. Having a mentor is more vital now than ever in the tech career journey, irrespective of your level or position. From beginners who want to find their way in tech to experienced professionals who wish to advance in their careers, having a mentor can help build confidence, enhance skills, and set achievable career goals.


  1. Earn relevant certifications 

Tech experts with certifications make more money, advance through the ranks more quickly, and add more value to their companies. The advantages of earning a certification remain constant over time. Increasing work quality and taking on greater responsibility are other unquestionable benefits. According to Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary Report 2021, the top five areas wherein women can get certifications include Cybersecurity and IT compliance/audit, IT service management, Project management, Cloud computing (AWS and Google Cloud), and Business Process. Women must start identifying and pursuing relevant courses to their repertoire, whether through their employers or independently. It’s the best way to take control of your career trajectory.


With everything now being driven by tech, having more diverse teams will result in better outcomes for organizations, government, and society. But these changes will not occur by themselves but require equal measures to be taken by organizations to advance women tech professionals. According to McKinsey, company profits and share performance can be nearly 50 percent higher when women are well represented at the top. Organizations must focus on long-term, sustainable solutions for women’s development and advancement.

(The author is Mr. Rashim Mogha, Customer Market Leader & GM, Leadership and Business at Skillsoft India and the views expressed in this article are her own)

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