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Gender Diversity in Technology



Diversifying the Code: Tackling Gender Inequality in Tech


I’m excited to participate in the upcoming HFM Future of Fund Tech Summit, where I’ll join a panel discussion on “Strengthening your technology team through diversity.” As I prepped for the Summit, the topic of gender diversity in tech kept swirling in my mind – far beyond honorific titles and pronoun debates (though those hold their own weight!). It’s about building a future where the minds shaping our digital world reflect society’s rich tapestry.

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So, buckle up for a data-driven dive into the landscape of gender diversity in tech with a sprinkle of personal anecdotes and actionable insights (because, let’s face it, numbers are great, but real-world examples spark change!).


Data Whispers: A Tale of Bias and Gaps

Let’s start with the elephant in the silicon room: data – the fuel for informed decisions and a stark mirror reflecting gender imbalances. The picture isn’t rosy. Globally, women fill only 22.5% of tech executive roles, a number stubbornly refusing to budge (McKinsey & Company, 2023). Even in the UK, a tech hub brimming with potential, women hold just 26% of leadership positions (Tech Nation, 2022).



the 2022 global state of women's leadership

But the data whispers a deeper story, one riddled with bias and gaps. Algorithmic bias, the invisible monster lurking in code, can perpetuate existing inequalities, disadvantaging women in hiring or loan approvals. Data collection may be skewed, overlooking non-binary identities or relying on surveys skewed towards specific demographics.


Remember that missing data is as loud as its absence. Underreporting of gender-based violence or discrimination paints an incomplete picture, hindering efforts to address these critical issues.


Beyond the Binary: Embracing Intersections

Speaking of incomplete pictures, let’s acknowledge the spectrum of gender identities beyond the traditional binary. While 2% of the population identifies as intersex, their experiences often remain invisible in data collection and discussions. Similarly, the broader trans+, non-binary, and gender non-conforming communities, representing roughly 1% globally, deserve recognition and inclusion in our quest for tech diversity.


From Pronouns to Progress: Small Steps, Big Impact

Now, let’s go back to those pronouns in email signatures. Yes, it might seem like a small gesture, but for someone navigating a world that often assumes their gender, seeing those “she/her” or “they/them” pronouns can be a beacon of acceptance and belonging. It’s a simple way to say, “You’re safe here.”


But allyship goes beyond symbolic gestures. Unconscious bias training can help us challenge our own internal stereotypes, while flexible work arrangements and targeted mentorship programs can create a more inclusive tech ecosystem where women and all underrepresented groups can thrive.


The Business Case for Breaking the Bias:

It’s not just about fairness; gender diversity is a smart business move. Studies show that diverse teams are more innovative, productive, and profitable. Imagine a tech landscape where fresh perspectives from different backgrounds spark groundbreaking ideas, leading to solutions that cater to a broader, more diverse audience. That’s the power of inclusion.


From Data to Action: Building a Brighter Tech Future


So, what can we do? Here’s your call to action:


  • Advocate for change: Raise awareness within your organisation, challenge biases, and champion inclusive practices.

  • Embrace transparency: Support initiatives that promote open data and algorithmic accountability to combat hidden biases.

  • Invest in data literacy: Equip yourself and others with the skills to understand and critically analyse gender data, preventing misinterpretations and misinformation.

  • Celebrate role models: Highlight the achievements of women and underrepresented groups in tech, inspiring future generations to join the movement.


Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. But with every conversation, every policy shift, and every line of code written with an inclusive lens, we move closer to a tech future where diversity isn’t just a statistic but the vibrant heartbeat of innovation.


This is just a glimpse into the vast conversation about gender diversity in tech. By delving deeper into specific studies, initiatives, and real-world examples, I hope it sparks dialogue, challenges perspectives, and ultimately inspires action towards a more inclusive and equitable tech world.


Let’s build a future where everyone has a seat at the digital table, and the code we write reflects the beautiful diversity of the human experience.


 

With over 25 years of dedicated leadership in the corporate, feminist, and LGBTQ+ realms, with a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, I’m thrilled to be recognised by the British Diversity Awards. I stand ready to support, consult, educate, and advise on your next diversity challenge. Your journey towards inclusivity begins with a conversation. Reach out to me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.

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