IT sphere is not a purely male’s sphere anymore. In the context of a battle of high-qualified software developers, when every single company needs and is looking for a skilled specialist, who can do the job at a high level, it would be stupid to ignore women candidates, whose professionality is none the worse. In fact, the more a company is primed for success, the less its leaders are into stereotypes, focusing more on qualification and experience. Moreover, it is proved that gender diverse teams are 15 % more productive than teams which consist of men only.
Why? Some people would explain the success of gender diverse teams by the different ways men’s and women’s brains function so that some tasks can be easily performed by men, while others should be left for women. But in reality, it’s more about the difference of lifestyles and social experience in particular. Therefore, a diverse development team is able to see the task from various angles and as a result to provide a solution that meets the requirements of both genders.
Thus, the desire to achieve gender diversity in the software development team is not about fashion. Outsourcing companies hire women in order to create higher quality software and thus increase their competitive ability, rather than to show off. However, in some countries where the social status of women is lower (India, Palestine, Vietnam, etc.) the tendency of recruiting women gains a social reason. Some companies hire women not only for the purpose of gender diversity but also in order to fight against discrimination and improve their position in society. Both causes are obviously reasonable and prove that gender diversity is worth achieving.
Companies take efforts to provide facilities for effective work and therefore attract skilled and talented women employees. Nevertheless, few companies managed to avoid the problem of the gender gap. In the IT sphere, female workforce makes up only 30%. It happens because women simply don’t feel they have equal opportunities and career prospects. In fact, the problem of discrimination on the ground of gender exists in almost every sphere, but in technical ones, this problem is more severe. For that reason, gender diversity, which is really important for successful work performance, doesn’t reach the level many employers want.
If you want to achieve gender diversity in your company, you need to have a clear picture of what kind of problems women face at a workplace and in their careers. Those problems are usually the pay gap, sexual harassment, gender bias, glass ceiling, role models, pregnancy discrimination, disregard of women’s voice and many others, more and less serious. The number and types of challenges women have to deal with differs from company to company. So first of all, your task as a leader is to identify problems women might face in particularly your company. Then you should think about possible solutions to those problems. For example, you can encourage women’s initiative, appoint women to high positions, take meaningful steps when harassment occurs. But besides problems women face, you need to know what opportunities they are interested in. Answers to those two questions will help you to understand in which direction you should move so that you can provide your female employees with everything they need for productive work.
It would be great if all the women in your company had the opportunity to communicate. Women need to feel they can talk about their problems and know their voice is heard. Open communication will make all challenges visible, and discussion of problems and possible solutions are really important if we want to fight discrimination.
The number of women working in Andersen is more than 200, and the majority of them are IT specialists. Many of them complained about sexism in their previous career: from offensive words (“You must have chosen this profession in order to find a husband, right?”) to offensive actions (“We would leave this task to our men developers, it’s too difficult for you”). As they comment, “in this company, at least, nobody judges you by your gender”. And we really don’t. It makes no difference to us whether the code is written by a woman or by a man. It makes no difference who tested the product. All we pay attention to are good skills, hard work, and excellent results – these are our requirements for specialists of both genders.