Invisible Women?  Women’s role in the Tech in the CEE

It’s impressive to know that 63% of people across Central and Eastern Europe think a woman can become a leader of their country in the next 10 years. Plus there’s Estonia, the first republic in the world to appoint female leaders to both head of state and head of government positions. However,with so much progress for female leaders in CEE countries, why do so few women in tech seem to hold leadership positions? Or for that matter, the same number of positions as men?

What do the statistics show for women in tech?

Why do we need more women in tech?

Workforce diversity is necessary for business. Teams made up of people with greater individual differences between each other leads to higher productivity and better performance. Despite statistics showing how GDP will increase by an average of 35% with a closed gender pay gap, women in tech remain at a disadvantage over men. Where women take up less than 10% of C-Suite positions at tech firms, there’s plenty of room to promote representation, leadership and inclusion of women at all levels – from CTO to administrator. And when it is, there is no doubt that a more motivated and higher-performing workforce will emerge.

The barriers women face

Sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying. These injustices shouldn’t continue to exist for women butsadly still do. There is another, very prevalent, more subtle form of discrimination in the workplace today known asunconscious bias. And this is where people hire people that are like them. So, while we all like to work with people we like, the problem with this approach is that it overlooks theimportance of diversity. And diversity is not only fair and right, but it drives better overall performancefor teams.

A recent report by Credit Suisse found companies that had at least one female board member had higher ROI compared to male-only boards. And this shows that any great team needs a mix of skills,abilities, attributes, backgrounds and approaches to grow income and achieve financial targets.

So, what’s holding women back?

Well, apart from Big Tech companies not employing enough women, one key reason for softwaredevelopment companies is something called ‘Brogrammer Culture’. And this is where unconscious bias comes into play. Because hiring managers are keen to hire peoplelike them. Sometimes, they may feel that a woman could disrupt a positive workplace culture.Brogrammer culture is a form of unconscious bias that allows hiring managers to create teams thataren’t based on how well they perform but whether they like each other. This not only stops teams fromreaching their potential but prevents women from gaining access to opportunities.

So, how can we change this?

Unconscious bias training is one way to tackle the problem.

And there is a range of unique and original ways for hiring managers to reduce unconscious bias in aworkforce.

Take US tech firm dialpad. They were able to level out the playing field for staff at all levels byintroducing AI notetaking technology. This enabled a junior member of staff to gain more activeparticipation in group meetings and discussions and feel they could progress.

Also, teams that overlook the benefits of women risk losing out, since statistics show that women founded companies are outperforming their male counterparts across the CEE.

And yet, despite their obvious skills, women aren’t winning capital investment. In practice, a staggering 94% of VC is going to male-founded companies. And this further illustrates the ‘bro-culture’ and biastowards men, despite stats showing how female leaders of startups are generally better than men.

Staggering, isn’t it?

Women in Tech Pioneers

We all love to reference modern-day tech pioneers—Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs. Generally, they’re all men.

But why is that?

In reality, women have been pioneering tech breakthroughs for a hundred years. It’s just that no-onetalks about them! So, we want to change that and talk about them here.

Some of my favourites include:

  • Annie Easley – A Leading member of NASA who developed software for the Centaur rocketstage. In February 2021, she had a moon crater named after her by the IAU.
  • Katherine Johnson – Another NASA pioneer, her complex calculations were critical to thesuccess of the first US crewed spaceflights.
  • Grace Hopper – An American computer scientist and US Navy rear admiral, she pioneeredcomputer programming and devised the theory of machine-independent programminglanguages.

Getting more Women in Tech means faster growth for CEE

Without a doubt, the tech sector is male-dominated. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Of course, compared to the situations women found themselves in 100 years ago, things have evolvedover time. But statistics today show that women do not have parity with men in tech. Particularly when it comes tothe amounts they’re paid and the opportunities they’re given to become leaders. And also, women and men are different. But it’s for this reason that women need more opportunities. Teams with a lack of women don’t perform as well. Plus, ‘group-think’ can often occur with teams of men, who end up making or agreeing to the same decisions. And in the end, this will lead to ineffectiveor mediocre outcomes. Instead, let’s give women more opportunities to join teams, and let them open more doors for the nextgeneration of computer science pioneers, female programmers and women leaders in tech.

The world deserves them.