First, we must admit the fact that sexism exists. We can’t blame the current society when for hundreds of years, in many countries women were discriminated. Though it is good news, at least for those who care about women’s rights, that there has been a noticeable change in gender equality. In fact, there are a few nations which sorted their way to manage this issue, and one of them is Norway.
Norway, just like Iceland and Finland, took the right steps to provide an even podium for men and women when it comes to rights and career opportunities. Scandinavian countries seem to have worked its ways to close the gender gap. As a matter of fact, in a World Economic Forum report where 0 is inequality and 1 is complete equality, Norway had a score of 0.84.
In addition to that, 63% of the graduates of 2015/16 in Norway were women. There is no denying, the Norwegian lands bring privilege to women in tech. However, we can still unearth significant disputes when we start to scratch the surface.
The current women leaders
An article from the Economist, made us question the real condition of gender discrimination across the board, not only in the technology field. After the major steps taken by the Nordic countries to find equality between genders, such as generous maternity leave packages and board quotas, only 6% of firms in Norway have female chief executives. We’re not even talking about only the listed companies in technology, but across the board.
Though one-third of entrepreneurial firms in Norway are founded by women, the percentage of female-founded Norwegian tech firms is extremely lesser. In fact, it is less than 1% — 0.99%, to be precise.
According to a research from the Investinor, among the 1,620 businesses, only 16 of these had a female manager, chairperson or founder. Though there has been a 26% increase in the number of women in Norweigian tech companies, there only had been a 17% growth in the number of the number of female leaders.
Are these numbers important?
As a matter of fact, yes.
In a study gathered from than 20,000 companies in 91 countries, it showed that female-led companies gained larger profits. Meaning, the more women we put in executive positions, the more companies may succeed.
Girl’s inclination to STEM subjects could also be a factor to consider behind the state of gender equality in tech. It could be due to the decline of interest of girls with their STEM subjects that sketches women’s futures in the technology world.
Based from a study gathered by Microsoft, starting the age of 15, the girls’ interest with STEM subjects begins to fade. Maria Akkuratnova, a product manager at Auka and the co-founder of Mattekrets AS, had profound observations regarding the issue:
“…going into schools, we see that the interest for STEM in elementary school kids does not differ much between the sexes – as many girls as boys want to learn about technology and are unsurprisingly equally good at it, too! The fact that girls’ interest and aptitude for STEM fades away with age was historically attributed to lower self-confidence and mathematical anxiety.
“Personally, I believe that it’s moreso affected by the fact that they are lacking female role models who teach technical subjects and encourage them to pursue a STEM career.
“When it comes to academic results across most of the world girls perform equally, if not outperform, boys in STEM-related subjects at the age of 15. We see the west dominating the conversation about feminism and yet these conversations and forward steps don’t appear to be translating to gender-equality in the Western tech workforce.
“Countries such as Russia – who sit way down the gender equality index ranking at 75 – are dominating when it comes to how many women hold tech positions. We see this too with many Asian and Eastern European countries, suggesting that in some countries with lower gender-equality, there is actually less of a gender-gap in STEM professions.
“In Russia, this might well be due to the historical heritage from the Soviet, where equality in science and mathematics was heavily promoted in the race to being the most advanced nation from a technology standpoint. Nevertheless, a culture where female engineers and computer scientists were common was created, which in turn has created positive role-models and encouraged younger generations of girls.”
What HR can do
There is a similar pattern in the behavior of women workers in technology, and people in Human Resources may be noticing the same observation. Initially, there are more women candidates in technology firms. However, the number declines after several years. Women who are hired for tech positions either stop progressing or end up leaving the company. Thus, employees who are promoted to senior positions are mostly men.
The key to resolve this conundrum lies in the culture of companies. Considering a shift in culture that encourage competitive women to stay and propel in the development field may result in big changes in favor of workers and the company as a whole.
To make it happen, leaders and HR must create an environment that is appealing to women. They must realize their role in honing a workplace that is safe, dynamic and fair to all sexes. Employees, regardless if they are men or women, must feel comfortable and energized in the environment where they are employed.
Implementation of equality in any workplace is crucial. Otherwise, a biased culture may develop in women or men dominated office.
Though, it is commonly believed that hiring like-minded people can be beneficial for the efficiency of start ups. The opposite is true when it comes to innovation and long-term growth of the company. Hiring workers with the similar background, beliefs, work process, even genders, will give limitations to development, which is vital to the company’s progress.
The goal of recruitment must have diversification. Startups, especially, must hire employees who can contribute different or even opposing ideas. This way, expansion and growth of the company will be easier to achieve.