Celebrating women in tech on IWD 2023
Each year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world.
This year, the United Nations’ theme for the event is DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality in recognition of “women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.”
Despite recent progress, women continue to be underrepresented in the technology industry and face persistent gender gaps in education and employment opportunities. The UN’s 2023 theme emphasizes the potential of technology and innovation to address these issues and promote women’s empowerment.
As part of Namecheap’s recognition of IWD and the UN’s call for digital gender equity, let’s explore the issue of gender equity in tech and consider some ways we can all help to level the playing field for women and girls in science and technology fields. (We’re also sponsoring another ‘Powered by Namecheap’ competition — read more about the two female entrepreneurs who won the competition in 2022.)
United Nations on gender equity
The United Nations considers gender equity to be essential to the growth and success of countries all around the world. It recognizes that
“gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.”
Yet equity remains out of reach for most women. As the UN points out, in 2023 women globally represent only 35% of the students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
Let’s take a closer look at this issue as it impacts the tech world today.
Ongoing obstacles for women in the tech industry
The gender gap in the tech industry persists in hindering women’s progress and opportunities. Women in technology face numerous challenges, such as a lack of representation, a need for mentorship, and an ever-present pay gap between men and women.
To start with, the pay gap continues to be stark. According to the latest Census Bureau figures, in the US, women earn 82 cents for every $1 earned by men. The pay gap is even wider for marginalized communities, with women of color earning between 50 and 60 cents compared to white men. LGBTQ+ workers face similar pay disparities.
Furthermore, women are underrepresented in tech companies at all levels. On average, women represent only a quarter of the workforce at big tech companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft). Despite this, the majority of men in the field consider their workplaces to be sufficiently diverse in terms of gender, meaning that it is often up to a small fraction of the employees to address this issue in terms of hiring and retention.
The issue is even worse at the top, as few women hold top-level leadership roles within the tech industry. According to CIO, only 37% of tech startups have one or more women on their boards of directors. Meanwhile, only one in four startups have a female founder, and just over half (53%) have at least one woman in an executive position.
An ongoing issue only nominally addressed by the #MeToo movement is harassment on the job as well as online bullying, stalking, doxing, and other abusive behaviors that discourage many women from both virtual and physical tech spaces.
These challenges are compounded for women who are also persons of color, immigrants, or members of the LGBTQ+ community, who face discrimination based on both gender and race, language barriers, and a lack of support networks.
Addressing equity issues
So as we contemplate gender equity today, on International Women’s Day, what can we do to improve things for women globally — but especially in tech?
In 2016, Girls Who Code conducted a survey and discovered that 74% of girls have an interest in pursuing careers in STEM fields. However, a major deterrent for them is the culture that is entrenched in STEM fields. A TechCrunch article highlighted that gender stereotypes in popular culture and a lack of female role models in the tech industry create an unappealing environment for many young women.
The gender pay gap is another major issue that hinders gender equity in the workforce. Not only is it unfair, but it also negatively affects the economy. According to Fortune, closing the gender pay gap in the US would add at least $512 billion to the economy. The pay gap is often a result of employers offering lower salaries to women than men for the same work. One way to help bridge the gap is by calling for salary transparency, which makes it more difficult for employers to justify unequal pay. By bringing transparency to the salaries of their employees, employers are held accountable for ensuring fair compensation, which can lead to improved gender equity in the workforce.
Tech companies should also develop company policies that address gender equity. These policies can include providing paid parental leave and affordable child care, as well as offering both mentorship and professional development opportunities to women in the workplace. Employers can also create an inclusive work culture by promoting diversity in recruitment, hiring, and promotions, and prioritizing diversity and inclusion training for employees to address unconscious bias.
Namecheap does its part. Bucking the global trend for tech businesses, 45% of our workforce is made up of women, and over half (51%) of the company’s leaders are women.
Where to learn more
If you’re interested in the issue of gender equity within the tech industry, there are several organizations that can provide additional resources and support.
- Girls Who Code is a non-profit focused on closing the gender gap in technology by teaching girls to code. There’s also Black Girls Code, which aims to increase the number of Black women in tech.
- Women in Tech is an organization of over 200,000 members that promotes inclusion, diversity, and equity within science and tech fields.
- Out in Tech creates opportunities for members of the LGBTQ+ community to advance their careers, grow their networks, and leverage tech for social change.
- The Grace Hopper Celebration is an annual conference that is the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. The next meeting is in September 2023.
- Project Include is a non-profit organization that wants to provide everyone a fair chance to succeed in tech fields, and provides resources and support for companies and individuals. They offer guides on company culture, HR, writing a code of conduct, and more.
- Women in Technology International provides support, resources, and networking opportunities for women in tech through conferences, mentorship programs, and a community forum.
- Code 2040’s goal is to dismantle the structural barriers that prevent the full participation and leadership of Black and Latinx people in tech fields.
- All Raise works to amplify female and non-binary voices, focusing on increasing the number of women investors and founders in technology.
- Equal Pay Today calls for the end of the gender wage gap that impacts the economic security of women, families, and communities of color.
Although just a sampling of the many global organizations focusing on gender equity, training, and resources, they are a great place to start for those interested in promoting gender equity in technology.