Being a Woman in Tech
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Posted by: Abbey Kwiat
Claire Young, Product Manager, Adage Technologies
Sunday, March 8 was International Women’s Day.
It’s a chance to celebrate over half the world’s population and their social, economic, cultural and political achievements; to champion a group that is underrepresented, underpaid and over-abused.
Typical Tech Landscape
It is well-known that tech is dominated by men – reviewing data from the US Department of Labor, more than half of the overall US workforce (57 percent) is comprised of women, but our gender makes up only 33 percent of web developers and 20 percent of computer programmers.
Given that reality, it’s poignant to mark this annual event a mere three days after the presidential election narrowed to solely men. A happening all too familiar for women in tech.
In McKinsey’s recent Women in the Workplace 2019 report, they note that women “continue to be underrepresented at every level” and what has been previously referred to as a glass ceiling, might more appropriately be dubbed a “broken rung”:
Progress at the top is constrained by a “broken rung.” The biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership is at the first step up to manager. For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. This broken rung results in more women getting stuck at the entry-level, and fewer women becoming managers. Not surprisingly, men end up holding 62 percent of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38 percent.
Tech Republic further points out that “more than half of women in tech leave the industry by the mid-point of their career, which is more than double the rate of men”. This means women see fewer and fewer other women as they progress on in their career.
Adage Landscape and Goals
At Adage, 32 percent of the staff are women. Being a “woman in tech” here comes in many forms. We have female developers, UX designers, QA testers, product owners, scrum masters, and even a Vice President. We also have women in finance, human resources, recruiting and sales. Working at a tech company – one that produces technology – we’re all women in tech to some degree, so I reached out to my comrades and asked them what it’s really like being a woman in tech.
“The funny thing is it never occurred to me that I’m a ‘woman in tech’ until I got to management positions. It wasn’t as disproportionate until that point. Sure, there were always fewer women, but they were there. But, the longer I stayed in technology and the more senior I became, I started to notice that I was so often the only woman in the room. At tech conferences, I was in a sea of suits. At the leadership levels you really start to see the effects of that broken rung and it’s stark. But, as leaders, it’s also our job to help fix it – to provide more opportunities for women to grow into leadership positions and to invest in the growth of talent. I’m optimistic that the more we collectively focus on solving this problem, we will shift that balance.” – Andrea Chang, Vice President, Project Delivery
“I believe the gender imbalance in tech is a real problem in the industry. My career has been solely in tech, and it is frustrating to continue to see so few females in leadership or executive level positions. Even the number of female developers of any rank is vastly lower than their male counterparts at so many companies. I am never surprised to be the only woman in the room, but I have hopes that this will not always be the case in tech. It has been important to me in my career path to work for a company that promotes the inclusion of women in their culture.” – Janie Jeffcoat, Scrum Master
“I have a very unique experience as a woman in tech. As a transgender woman, I experienced the gendered treatment from both angles. It is absolutely true, women are treated differently than men in tech. I was working with a team of all men when I transitioned. The level of respect clearly decreased afterwards. However, having other co-workers who do not identify as a man can make a significant impact in treatment. I experienced a 180-degree culture shift from being the only woman on a team, to adding a significant number of women-identified team members. At Adage, I came into an environment that had a higher than average percent of women and non-binary identified co-workers. The culture and respect I’ve received here is beyond what I have experienced since my transition, and I attribute much of that to the more gender-diverse work environment. Diversity and representation in the workplace matters. It leads to a more welcoming environment, and it’s been proven to increase productivity in teams as well.” – Maddie Nielsen, Quality Assurance Analyst
“Most of the female or non-binary devs I’ve ever met have been exceptional developers. But, we’re not going to have real equality in the industry until it’s as easy for non-male devs to succeed as it is for any male dev, even if they are inexperienced, junior, or still learning. The cost of failure is much higher when you’re in the minority, which leads to impossibly high standards and discouragement when you don’t reach them.” – Jess Brown, Lead Front-End Developer
“I think it’s a complicated time to be a woman in any industry right now, but it’s worth staying around and holding a spot for a woman that might come behind you. The only way to change things is to get more women in the door, and I think that will only happen through women supporting other women.” – Logan Charles, Product Owner
“The women in this company keep me in tech. It’s a group that supports one other, encourages one another and acknowledges the realities of what we face in this industry. It is so much less isolating to be in a place with a supportive, intelligent group like this.” – Molly Lee, Lead UX Designer
Simply put, tech is not an easy industry for women, but it is one that is ever-evolving, and change is a-coming.
At Adage, we do our part to contribute to positive changes in technology:
- The company is actively working to promote and encourage women in tech, offering opportunities to manage others
- We continue to search for diverse candidates, and consciously added the first woman to the Adage Leadership Team last year
- Our Strategy & Design team is about 50 percent women
- Our project management team (a group comprised of Product Owners and Scrum Masters) is 60 percent women
- We just launched our new QA program, putting a woman at the helm of this effort
- We have all managers go through Diversity & Inclusion training and plan to roll this out to employees in 2020
- Our Recruiting team runs our job descriptions through language processors to check for gender-coded language
- Internally, the women created an #AdageWomen group where we share information, offer support and host quarterly social outings
- Externally, Adage sponsors events with Women Who Code – join us on March 12 for an event celebrating International Women’s Day!