Challenging gender bias in tech
The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, as ‘a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.' To recognise this, we’re investigating gender bias in the workplace, specifically in tech.
Before we jump into how we can all help combat gender bias in tech, we need to understand what the current state of play is...
What percentage of the tech workforce is female?
While women make up almost half of the total workforce in the UK, only 19% of tech workers identify as female. Despite a number of initiates to raise awareness about the lack of equality, the proportion of men and women being appointed directors of tech companies in the UK has remained almost exactly the same since 2000.
What percentage of those women have faced discrimination?
A survey has shown that 49% of women in the technology industry have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace. 20% have resigned in the past due to this discrimination or harassment.
While attitudes in the workplace are (ever so) slowly shifting over time, there are still a number of issues around inequality and proper representation. Some of these can be improved by changing legislation, like the gender pay gap and parental leave. However, it’s the problems that women often face in the office (virtual or not) that need to be heard and addressed now.
The seemingly innocuous comments and behaviours that we’ve all either witnessed or experienced must be challenged. By all of us.
What is gender bias?
Before we look at some examples, here are some quickfire definitions:
Gender bias: the tendency to prefer one gender over another. It is a form of unconscious bias, or implicit bias, which occurs when one individual unconsciously attributes certain attitudes and stereotypes to another person or group of people.
Microaggression: intentional or unintentional comments or actions directed against a person (who usually is part of a marginalized group, such as women) that are inherently hostile or derogatory.
Notice the keywords: ‘unconsciously’ and ‘unintentional’.
Whether someone means to or not, gender bias, and the microaggressions that can come along with it, has a serious impact on self-worth and wellbeing. Dr. Kevin Nadal, a psychology professor, explains this in more detail, saying ‘Microaggressions can accumulate over a person's lifetime, negatively affecting relationships with family and friends and essential functions like sleep.’
What does gender bias look like in the workplace?
To better illustrate these different types of bias, here are some examples from the fantastic resources provided by International Women’s Day and Lean In.
When we allow these comments to echo unchallenged, we’re implicit. We’re allowing this behaviour to continue.
How can we #ChooseToChallenge gender bias?
Last week, we sat down as a team and had an open chat about bias in the workplace and what we can do to choose to challenge it in 2021 and beyond. As a sidenote, we highly recommend taking the time to read through the resources provided by International Women’s Day and Lean in.
What we can do as individuals:
So, what can we do individually to help challenge gender bias? Here are the suggestions from the experts:
Speak up for someone in the moment.
Ask a probing question.
Stick to the facts.
Explain how bias is in play.
Advocate for policy or process change.
There's a full range of detailed examples in the pack above, including how best to respond when faced with specific instances of gender bias in the workplace.
What we can do as a business:
At Confido, we understand the power of a diverse, inclusive team. At their early stages, startups can often lack the resources needed to provide adequate training on these issues. This lack of training can lead to a lack of awareness within the company.
As a recruiter, we help diversify teams and encourage them to focus on training and education to ensure everyone feels welcome and equal. Ensuring fair and inclusive hiring practises is at the heart of our processes.
As a team, we'll work harder to challenge instances of gender bias and help those around us to do the same, both in our interactions in the workplace and outside of work.
We also commit to doing more to celebrate female founders, especially those in the tech for good space. We’ll be sharing our top 10 Tech for Good female founders later this week, so keep an eye out for that on LinkedIn.
How will you #ChooseToChallenge gender bias and help forge a gender-equal workplace? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.