Female participation in the tech workforce is growing. In 2020, a US study found that women made up 28.8% of the tech workforce, a sizeable increase from 25.9% in 2018.
While the conversation around more women in tech is accelerating, once in, women require more “professional development and career advancement” to thrive in the industry.
Women in tech want career and professional support
Findings from educational tech firm Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech Report, which involved female tech respondents from the US, UK, Canada, and France, uncovered a “misalignment” between the benefits women in tech want and what is currently provided in the workplace.
Most respondents (86%) said professional development and training is “extremely or very important to them”, yet only 42% reported being offered it as a benefit. In addition to this, nearly a third of women surveyed said a lack of training is the biggest barrier to pursuing a successful tech career.
The research also revealed that female respondents had a clear idea of what tech specialism they wanted to pursue, with business analysis, cybersecurity, analytics, AI, machine learning, and leadership and management topping their lists.
Another recent Skillsoft report found that 76% of organisations face skills gaps in their IT departments. It shows that providing clear career development pathways, including learning opportunities to women, could benefit gender equity in organisations and plug the impending skills gap, leading to greater innovation.
Tips for tech employers
Based on their research, Skillsoft has these tips for tech employers to include and advance women:
1. Provide and encourage opportunities for certification: when asked how certifications have helped advance their careers, respondents reported gaining more responsibility (52%), earning higher salaries (34%), and receiving promotions (32%), among other benefits.
2. Make a concentrated effort to reduce gender bias in STEM: 70% of women surveyed said men outnumber them in the workplace at ratios of two-to-one or greater. To encourage women into tech careers, respondents said organisations should provide opportunities for professional development and training (55%), childcare (47%), career coaching, mentoring, and counselling (43%), and an equitable work culture (41%).
3. Alleviate the unique on-the-job challenges women face: Despite overall job satisfaction for women in tech being strong, 38% list their biggest challenge as a lack of equity in pay followed by balancing work and life (36%) and a lack of equity in opportunities (33%).
4. Ensure training is timely and topical: When selecting a training provider, women in tech seek scheduling capabilities (34%), relevant course availability (32%), and opportunities for hands-on practise (32%).
To read Skillsoft’s additional Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report, click here.