Is gender imbalance in the world of tech worsening?
Posting date:01 Mar 2021
A little over a year ago, I joined Stanton House as a recruiting expert in Technology and Transformation, covering the Asia Pacific region. Now as International Women’s Day approaches once more, I’ve been reflecting on how different the world is one year on and just how much has changed for us all.
There can be no doubt that the impact of Covid-19, on both our day-to-day and working lives, has been vast! We’ve all had to adapt to social distancing, increased isolation and remote working. At one point or another many of us have also had to juggle parenting, home schooling or caring for elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives.
What’s more, as buyers and consumers our expectations and habits have evolved. We now need and want to buy, access and consume more products and services on-line. Organisations have responded to our changing habits by rapidly adopting new technology and embracing digital transformation.
However, when it comes to the impact of Covid-19 on our professional careers, the positives and negatives have not always been equally bestowed.
Covid-19 has adversely impacted women’s careers,
more so than men
Research shows that Covid-19 has disproportionality, negatively affected working women, who have seemingly been juggling more while working from home.
The report COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects, from McKinsey Global Institute, estimates that women make up almost two-fifths of the global labour force but have suffered more than half of total job losses from the crisis. That’s left them 1.8 times more vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact than men.
One reason for this is that the virus has incombered more women than men with the burden of unpaid care (of children and elderly relatives) which has been disproportionately taken by women.
Furthermore, women are also disproportionately represented in industries that are expected to decline the most. Industries such as retail and services such as arts, recreation and public administration.
So, when it comes to male dominated professions and sectors (such as technology) these negative impacts to women, only serve to compound the disparities already present between genders. It could therefore be said that the gender gap is widening at an alarmingly fast rate in the world of tech.
Senior women in tech are still the minority
Although more and more senior women in technology are being elevated and celebrated across the world – they remain very much in the minority.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble, the dating site that is famous for its female-focused algorithm, made global headlines recently. The 31-year-old joined a small list of self-made female billionaires that have founded tech companies to IPO and are among the
world’s 500 richest. Interestingly most of these female billionaires (71%) reside in Asia.
However, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, these women still only account for less than 5% of the world’s 500 biggest fortunes. Self-made men comprise almost two-thirds of the wealth index.
In the Asia Pacific region, where I represent technology leaders, inequalities have been acknowledged but there’s still much to be done.
According to a McKinsey & Co report about 43% of entry-level positions in Asian companies are occupied by women, but at the C-suite and senior-management levels, this drops to 25% in Singapore and as low as 4% in Japan.
This represents a huge amount of untapped talent!
Closing the gender gap is more important than ever
In a time where Covid-19 has left many countries facing huge economic challenges, it’s clear that urgent action is needed by both policy makers and employers to close the gender gap.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 shows that reducing gender inequality boosts an economy’s growth, competitiveness and readiness for the future. What could be more compelling in today’s climate?
Luckily, organisations in my current home county of Singapore, are making strides to add more women to their senior management teams. Employers who understand the competitive advantage they stand to gain by having more diversity in their workforce, are actively pursuing and embedding more inclusive talent attraction and retention strategies.
In Singapore, senior women in tech have a prominent platform with some excellent examples of women leading the way. The Singapore 100 Women In Tech Awards shone a bright light on some of the amazing achievements of female CEOs. Many of these senior women represent fast growth tech/product companies while others have recently taken on technical leadership positions within traditional financial institutions.
As a woman who recruits senior experts in technology, I feel the energy and camaraderie between women who genuinely want to help each other and elevate each other’s careers.
While the push for greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace, in Asia is still behind many other parts of the world, the drive for change is constant. Women here often pave the way for themselves with the great support of those around them.
I’m passionate about helping individuals from all backgrounds further their careers in tech and although more women are starting to make their mark, there is still more work to be done.