The importance of security

This year’s International Women’s Day theme of gender balance is a goal employers should aim for in the work place all year, every year. Balance creates more harmonious, productive work environments which leads a business to success. The field of IT and technology in particular would benefit from employing more women for their traditionally male-dominated roles to not only strike a better balance, but improve the world of technology.

1. Innovation is contingent on diversity

Where would modern society be if our ancestors interacted only with people like themselves? Sharing differing ideas leads to innovation and more fulfilling work environments.

Encouraging women to pursue careers in tech industries isn’t merely a polite gesture made in the name of equal representation. From coding to cybersecurity to robotics, women bring their own valuable perspectives to creating and problem solving.

A comparative analysis of the communication approaches of men and women at work by Vinita Mohindra, PhD, Head of the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal; and Samina Azhar, PhD, and Assistant Professor at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology found that women communicate to build connections and are more likely to value cooperation at work.

Mohindra and Azad’s findings also showed that women were more likely to ask for help on tasks at work, ultimately improving their own skills for their careers. These qualities can lead women to be excellent collaborators, which is crucial for promoting innovation and more equal participation in the workplace.

2. Fill in employment gaps

Since the world of IT is continuously expanding, tech fields—and the number of new job positions—are growing as well.

“The lesson from history is that technological change leads to more jobs being created,” Samson Amusa, contracts and interim consultant at Redline Group said in a 2018 Redline Group article regarding growth in the UK tech field.

According to Amusa, the UK tech sector is already creating jobs at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. In the UK, digital tech employment increased by 13.2 percent between 2014 and 2017, says the 2018 Tech Nation Report. The same report reveals that while 49 percent of all UK jobs are held by women, only 19 percent of the digital tech workforce is female.

Tapping into the talent that women bring to the workplace will not only improve the overall quality of work, but will fill the job vacancies that could hinder progress in the tech world.

3. Update perceptions of women’s roles in the workplace

While the notion of 'women’s work' has long been unfavourable and antiquated, stereotypes of the careers women are expected to pursue still linger. We often expect web developers or office IT support staff to be men, while the word 'nurse' may conjure up the mental image of a young woman. Though there is nothing wrong with a person of any demographic working in any field, changing our perceptions of excepted career paths will be worthwhile for creating a more inclusive society.

In the UK, everyone has the legal right to pursue any degree or career that they choose. However, societal expectations may dissuade, or even create hostile environments for women and minorities in their desired workplaces. Updating our mental constructs of what certain groups of people are 'supposed' to be in the workplace can even expand to how we view each other outside of the office.

4. Inspire younger generations of women to pursue tech

In her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, American author and Purdue University Associate Professor Roxanne Gay wrote that “when you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.”

For any major societal change to be made, someone needs to take the first difficult steps to clear a path for future generations. Predecessors of women in tech like Grace Hopper and Anita Borg earned their places in tech history for leading in a time when most tech leaders were men. Though current tech work environments are drastically more inclusive than they were even thirty years ago, progress must still be made to achieve a more balanced tech field.

When young women see someone who looks like themselves succeeding in a male-dominated industry, they can envision the gender gap narrowing in the workplace. Organisations like Women in Cybersecurity, Girl Develop It, and Women Who Code provide supportive networks for girls and women, and can create potential role models for other women.

A female mentor or role model can play a huge part in how a young woman views herself and her career prospects. Even if you do not reach a legendary status in tech history, every day you will help shape the future of tech by guiding younger women to continue thriving in their field.

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