Why women need to take the lead —that point is no longer up for debate. Companies with diverse workforces are able to draw upon those unique experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds to champion and execute new ideas. This is vital in dynamic industries like technology, where change affects the world faster. Numerous research studies demonstrate that the lack of women in leadership roles negatively affects business outcomes, work cultures and levels of innovation required for greater financial performance.
At least one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce because of COVID-19, according to the annual Women in the Workplace study from LeanIn.org and consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The study involved 317 companies representing over 12 million employees. Researchers warned this could possibly undo all the gains women have made in management and senior leadership roles over those past six years.
What Does the Data Say?
Among senior-level women who said they are considering stepping out of the workforce or downshifting in their careers, almost 3 in 4 of them cited “burnout” as the main reason. Part of the reason for this burnout, researchers suggested, was also that women with children were three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for a majority of the housework and child care amid the pandemic.
The report also warned that losing these senior-level women at work could have implications for women at all stages in their careers, as the senior-level women are more likely than senior-level men to advocate for gender and racial equality and mentor women of color.
A similar report from the Company’s 2019 edition noted a “broken rung” — being passed over for that first promotion from entry-level to management — continues to hold women back at work. This was again a key point highlighted in this year’s data as well. The first step on the ladder to senior leadership is the move from a manager position. If the manager position is missing, it will create a setback for individual women. It deprives tech/IT companies of diverse thought and threatens to push gender parity out of reach. Fixing it, this study urges, will “set off a positive chain reaction across the entire pipeline.
For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted, according to the 2020 report. That gap grew larger for women of color — where for every 100 men only 58 Black women and 71 Hispanics were promoted.
Women leaders are likely to provide an integrated view of work and family, resulting in an engaged and promising personal and professional future. Gender parity in leadership is important because true progress cannot happen without a diversity of perspective in leadership roles.
But there is good news as well:
- Since the study’s inception in 2015, the share of women in c-suite positions — executive-level jobs like COO or CEO — grew from 17% to 21% in 2020.
- In 2019, $26.6 billion was invested in startups with at least one female founder, which was more than eight times the amount seen in 2010.
- The average seed for female founders rose to $1.2 million in 2019, which closes the gap with male founders, who averaged out $1.35 million pre-pandemic.
Perhaps the most interesting statistics surround female-founded “unicorns”—another name for private startups with $1 billion in funding, which often comes from crowdsourcing sites. Among these unicorns, 21 were founded by women in 2019, up from just five in 2016.
The Power of Female Leaders
Why is it so important that we find more women in tech leadership roles? Just look at the advancements brought on by industry leaders such as Oracle NetSuite, a company recognized for its diversity initiatives. Thought leaders like Nicky Tozer, EMEA Vice President at NetSuite, have done plenty to foster more diversity in their workplaces in this historically male-dominated industry by serving as mentors and role models.
At Amzur Technologies, our Controller Vanaja Malem brings a history of bridging the gap between HR, managers and employees to help foster a strong culture where employees can feel empowered, and President Rani Nemani works hard every day to ensure women have a seat at the technology table. “Investing in our people is mission-critical in our business. This is a core part of our go-to-market strategy that we believe enables us—and our associate—to reach their potential.”
But there’s more work to be done. Overall, women still make up less than a quarter of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce in the U.S. How can we change this? How can you make a difference?
We must change our culture. Follow Nicky Tozer and Rani Nemani and act as a mentor. When a woman in your life shows an interest in math or science, encourage them. Enable them. Empower them to take the next steps. Reach out to women leaders on LinkedIn and suggest a quick Zoom coffee call, and be prepared with a list of questions you’d like to walk through. Only by adjusting how we as a society think about women in science can we enact real change.
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Director of Digital Marketing
Bengi Lynch, is the lead content writer for IT Staffing at Amzur Technologies, Inc. She is the Director of Digital Marketing. She has close collaboration with recruiters, hiring managers, staffing managers, and other subject matter experts (SMEs) to gather information needed to write on trending topics.