Malvieka Joshi

From Bias to Balance: Advancing Women in the IT Industry | Malvieka Joshi | VP-HR | F5 Network

Malvieka JoshiOver the past two decades, the IT industry has undergone substantial evolution, profoundly impacting various aspects of society. Within this dynamic landscape, the role of women in technology has also evolved, albeit with its own set of challenges and triumphs. However, despite the admirable efforts to increase the number of women in the technology sector, we still have a long way to go. Women in technology face persistent obstacles, including entrenched gender bias and a lack of representation in leadership roles. Over the past 3 decades of my career, I have witnessed women still being underrepresented in the IT industry. According to DDI’s 2023 Global Leadership Forecast, the share of women in tech leadership roles has fallen to 28%. This shows that organizations in the IT industry must work toward encouraging and uplifting women and before that, it is important to understand the barriers women face in this industry:

Gender bias and stereotypes are one of the most pervasive challenges faced by women in the IT industry. In this industry, many times, women employees have to prepare themselves for long days filled with micro- and sometimes not-so-micro aggressions.

• The dearth of strong female role models and women mentors deprives aspiring women of guidance and support, making it difficult to navigate career advancement pathways

Lack of family-friendly policies, long working hours, demanding project deadlines, and the expectation of constant availability can create immense pressure, particularly for women juggling caregiving duties.

Organizations must help all their employees to grow and achieve their professional goals and this includes women employees and subsequent opportunity parity. Below are some of the simple ways in which tech organizations can support and elevate their women employees:

• Inclusive Recruitment Practices:
Organizations must prioritize inclusive recruitment practices to attract and retain top female talent. Some of the inclusive recruitment practices include- expanding recruitment networks to reach out to women from underrepresented groups and reevaluating job descriptions to eliminate gender bias. Additionally, organizations can implement blind resume screening processes and diverse interview panels to ensure fair evaluation of candidates based on their skills and qualifications.

• Equal Career Advancement Opportunities:
To retain women employees and foster a culture of equity, organizations must provide equal opportunities for career advancement. This can be done by introducing transparent promotion criteria and providing clear guidance on the skills and experiences required for advancement.

• Building a Supportive Work Environment:
A supportive environment is imperative to fostering gender diversity and equity within the organization. This entails putting in place family-friendly policies to meet the various needs of staff members, like flexible work schedules and parental leave options. Offering working mothers and caregivers resources for eldercare support or childcare assistance can also help to lessen their workload. Furthermore, promoting an inclusive workplace culture with zero tolerance for harassment or discrimination communicates to staff members that they are all respected and valued.

• Providing Mentorship Programs and Training Opportunities Led by Women:
Offering mentorship programs with women mentors and leadership development initiatives can provide valuable support and guidance to women employees in navigating their career progression. Having a woman mentor can be inspiring for the new young women employees who have joined the organization in the initial years of their careers. Additionally, it is crucial to provide professional development and training opportunities for female employees to empower them and give them the tools necessary for success in the IT sector. Workshops, seminars, and skill-building programs on subjects like leadership development, improving technical skills, and conquering imposter syndrome should be offered by organizations. Providing female employees with sponsorship and mentorship opportunities with senior leaders can also help them grow their networks and progress in their careers.

• Encouraging Gender Diversity Initiatives:
An organization can demonstrate its commitment to promoting diversity by going beyond and cultivating partnerships with groups that support women in technology. In addition to offering beneficial networking opportunities, taking part in industry-wide events like Women in Tech conferences or diversity-focused hackathons can highlight the organization’s commitment to building an inclusive tech ecosystem. Furthermore, the organization’s dedication to diversity and equity can be strengthened by showcasing the accomplishments of female employees and sharing success stories with upcoming generations of female tech professionals.

By implementing the above initiatives and practices organizations can empower women employees and drive positive change within the industry. Ultimately, fostering a culture of diversity and equity is not only the right thing to do but also essential for driving innovation, driving innovation, and ensuring long-term success.