To celebrate international women’s day, Aigen's CEO, James Loft, shares his views on creating a diverse workplace and takes a minute to consider an unfortunate lack of women in technology.

Firstly, let’s look at the extent of the problem. Women account for just 30% of the technology workforce, according to figures released collectively by Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. Additionally, between 2000 and 2012, there was a 64% decline in undergraduate women interested to major in computer science, according to figures from the US-based National Centre for Women and Information Technology.

Despite the technology industry providing extensive career opportunities for women, there has been publicised criticism, highlighting some of typical issues facing women, within the technology workplace. Wage inequality in comparison to male colleagues, sexism in the workplace and a shortage of female role models, all contribute to the challenges faced by women working in technology according to a new survey by global technology association ISACA.

In the survey the top 5 challenges cited by women in technology were:

  • Lack of mentors (48%)
  • Lack of female role models (42%)
  • Gender bias in the workplace (39%)
  • Unequal growth opportunities compared to men (36%)
  • Unequal pay for the same skills (35%)

The survey summarised that there is still a lot left to be done in addressing the imbalance to ensure that “women are more equitably represented in the technology workforce” and the onus falls on companies to ensure they take a more gender neutral approach across their recruitment, the teams they build and their places of work.

To celebrate international women’s day I’ve been inspired to write about my experiences. After many years in IT I wanted to highlight why a diverse workplace is important and how it contributes positively to company culture by offering a larger, more varied skill-set and perspective within your business.

It is all too well known that IT is male dominated and, for a variety of reasons, females entering the workforce have not been choosing IT as a career. I cannot blame women for not finding IT an attractive career option, as the IT environment is often equated to something similar as that used for growing mushrooms. Feed and water them regularly, keep the lights low with few distractions and you will get the best out of them!

However, I believe that not only has the workplace changed a great deal, but that the work itself has broadened to meet a variety of challenges. The world of IT today is a much more diverse field than in previous decades, and I believe can attract a much more diverse workforce as a result.

IT departments have put a lot of effort, albeit sadly not always successfully, into making software processes more engaging and less sterile. In particular, teams in software development have adopted agile processes, pair programming and is much more open and community based.

My challenge to the industry is to identify, value and advertise for the soft skills that female graduates acquire in their non-science and technology focused degrees, and which can be applied to roles within tech companies. Soft skills are particularly required in roles that engage with clients and users, such as Programme and Project Managers, BAs, QA leads, Knowledge Engineers.

Aigen is an AI consultancy with leading expertise in its field. As thought leaders in this space, we are in a position where we can address the gender balance right from the beginning, by holding open discussions on diversity, implementing a fair and open recruitment process in our search for talent and promoting the benefits of a diverse team. Whilst our team is more diverse than your average tech company, we know that we can do better to ensure that diversity and openness remains at the heart of our culture, and on International Women’s Day we pledge to lead the way on diversity within AI and technology.

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