Although subtle and likely not ill-intentioned, comments like this can undermine a person’s confidence and feeling of belonging. It also represents the idea that men working in tech is the norm and women working in tech is “other.”
Of all of the female colleagues I asked, every one of them had experienced being treated differently in past professional settings because of their gender. While each of these women have their own unique experiences, the problems they face are not only common, they’re systemic across the industry: women face extra challenges due to gender perception.
Challenges We Have Faced in the Past
My colleagues and I identified the following as challenges that many women who work in tech have faced at some point based on our experiences before joining Amazee Labs:
- Women need to prove themselves: One of our team members recalled her time at a different company when she was given a promotion with more responsibilities but no raise. She had to prove herself first. This is a common theme. Many of us have memories of times past when we had to earn respect that was freely given to our male peers by default.
- Women’s contributions are under-valued: Another coworker described a previous work experience where her contributions were second-guessed and only believed after being confirmed with a male colleague. In other cases, we have experienced taking on additional responsibilities that were not valued.
- Work environment is not inclusive: Yet another team member discussed the times how male coworkers at a different company made sexist jokes. Afterwards, all eyes were on her to judge her reaction. Many of us have worked in similar environments where this unprofessional and often disruptive behaviour was accepted or seen as the norm.
What the Experts Say
Academics and experts continue to research women in tech. Their findings confirm our experiences that women face additional challenges. They believe this contributes to a significant employment gap. For example, in 2019 women made up just 21.5% of the digital workforce in Europe.
Companies like Amazee Labs are Making a Difference
Fortunately, tech companies are becoming more aware and making positive changes. When I asked my colleagues how they thought the industry could improve, I was happy to hear them reference many positive examples from their time with Amazee Labs. Together, we determined that there are four main steps companies can take to support women in tech.
- Be Intentional: As one of my coworkers said, we don’t just hire women. We work on deliberately creating an inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of culture, race or gender. This includes recognizing that different biases exist and taking conscious steps to create a place where people want to work. It is not easy for this type of environment to develop on its own and it is up to us to own it.
- Cultivate an Inclusive Company Culture: “I don’t picture myself as being disadvantaged here,” said a coworker and cited the fact that there is an inherent trust and respect regardless of gender. We are free to make and learn from our mistakes without judgement and we empower each other.
- Allow Women to Lead: A coworker fondly recalled a picture taken at an event where Amazee Labs won an award. Our CEO was just one of the very few women leaders in attendance. “Representation is so important,” she said. Another coworker agreed and continued. She said it’s not only about representation. It’s also about companies providing equal chances for everyone to further develop and be promoted.
- Offer Flexible Scheduling and Location: As a remote company pre-COVID, Amazee Labs has been offering flexible scheduling and location since before the pandemic. This helps both mothers and fathers here balance work with their family life. And we always get excited when a cute little face or pet pops into a Zoom call.
We would love to hear about your experience as a woman in tech or any of your ideas on how to continue to improve the industry – get in touch with us today.