Women in tech dispel a study which saw 80% of men surveyed in the industry saying there is gender parity. Here’s what women think about how things can improve.
Some 80 per cent of men working with tech companies believe that women in the industry are treated equally, according to a recent survey.
The findings dispute years of data and the experiences of women in the industry.
For Hannah Samano, CEO and Founder of Femtech company Unfabled, there is an idea that the tech ecosystem is open to anyone who wants to play, but she says this is categorically false.
“There are invisible structural challenges that currently prevent equality. If you were a man and had never faced these, you probably wouldn’t know they existed,” she told Euronews Next.
According to the survey by recruitment company Nigel Frank International, part of cloud talent firm Tenth Revolution Group, just six per cent of the male participants disagreed there was gender equality and 14 per cent said they neither agreed nor disagreed.
More than 1,300 men in cloud computing for companies working with Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Business Applications took part in the survey.
“It’s common for those who don’t experience inequality to ignore or deny its prevalence. What we need is more engagement, observation, listening – and ultimately allyship, from men in tech,” said Nigel Frank International Chairman and CEO James Lloyd-Townshend.
While the number of women in tech is slowly rising, it is not just about getting more women in the industry, according to Anna McDougall, the director of product and engineering at Axel Springer National Media & Tech.
“It’s not just about getting women on board, it’s about creating an environment where they feel they belong and are actively welcomed,” she told Euronews Next.
A 2023 survey of women in tech by technology event and software company Web Summit found an increase in reported gender inequality compared to 2022, with more than 50 per cent of the 500 female participants saying they had experienced sexism in the workplace.
Meanwhile, almost half of them also said they think that their workplace is not taking appropriate measures to combat gender inequality, increasing from 26 per cent in 2022 to 47 per cent in 2023.
McDougall said the reasons some men are not aware of the issues faced by women in tech can be due to ignorance, apathy and a lack of belief, but she also noted they can be the ones fighting the hardest for opportunities for women.
“I think a lot of men are feeling quite defensive about their own identities at the moment: they feel like they need to justify their success and deny their own privilege as a way of protecting their sense of self.”
A need for more role models
Evelyne Adjei Mensah, founder of the French deep tech company Trust in Isotopes, said some men are just not aware of the inequality in tech.
“You ask them [men] to give you the name of a woman in tech. They realise that they don’t know so many women in tech,” she told Euronews Next, adding another issue is that even recruiters have problems hiring more women because they do not know where to find them.
According to a study by McKinsey, women only occupy 22 per cent of all tech roles across European companies. If current trends continue, the share of women in tech may drop to 21 per cent by 2027.
Mensah said this creates issues as there are not enough role models for children to aspire to.
“I think about when I was a child and nobody looked like me who was running a company. So it was really hard to identify or even to think it was possible to do that. I think we need to raise awareness for children.
“That’s why since I am a Black woman working in science and tech, I speak in front of young girls, and young boys to make them understand it’s possible.”
What can men, companies, and decision-makers do?
The first thing men can do is hire women and pay them properly, said McDougall, adding if they are not in a hiring position, they should keep their eyes and ears open.
“If someone on the team says something inappropriate or makes her uncomfortable, take a moment to pull her aside afterwards and check that she’s OK. Better yet, call out sexist jokes or comments when you hear them,” she said.
As for companies, she recommends a “passing the vibe check,” meaning asking questions such as if the atmosphere feels good, whether women are actively included in decision-making, what the maternity leave policies are, and what percentage of leadership are women.
For Samano, the equality problem all comes down to funding.
“Women in tech face significantly larger challenges when trying to raise venture funding. The decision-makers within funds are largely still male, and those who invest in the funds are mainly male limited partners (LPs),” she said.
“While it might look like venture capitalists have diverse teams, this is an illusion since the majority of women tend to be in more junior roles.
“Until we have more women sitting on investment committees and investing in funds themselves as LPs, I don’t feel like this problem will change.”
Some 98 per cent of European VC money went to businesses founded by men in 2023, according to Atomico.
“Having been through the fundraising journey, us female founders have to hustle considerably harder to get the finance we need to scale our businesses. And we’re often scrutinised about our family life and age in a way that male founders aren’t,” said Karoli Hindriks, CEO and Co-Founder of Jobbatical, a global mobility platform for businesses.
“Companies with diverse founding teams perform 2.5 times better than those without, she told Euronews Next, referring to a study.
“The needle has barely moved in the past five years,” she told Euronews Next.
“We need more female VCs, Angels and male allies to ensure that great businesses aren’t being hindered by conscious and unconscious bias”.