View Across The Gender Gap: Still A Long Way To Go

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Check out this article on the gender gap discussion, where still a lot has to be done. We talked to business women who give insights, share their advice & thoughts!

Gender gap in professional and especially tech world has been (and will stay) a subject for numerous research. Some are obviously tired of hearing about long-standing problem of women not presented nearly enough in technology, leadership and entrepreneurship, including VC funds. The problem stands, however, and it cannot be resolved by itself.

Connecting The Pipes In A Wrong Way

Professor Linda Macaulay, currently based in Manchester Business School and specialising in System Design, is a truly incredible STEM lady with vast tech experience, who shares it in particular during Girl Geek Dinners in Manchester. We had a talk during 10th Birthday Party for said ‘dinners’ and she had her say about the pipeline part of gender issue in technology, which she witnessed while holding various posts in Computer Science in Informatics. She admitted the disappointing numbers of girls joining these faculties and schools and was very aware of the overall problem. “When we have steady or even falling share of female students in STEM disciplines, should we be surprised when we experience the same kind of crisis among the professionals.”, she said.

WISE campaign director Helen Wollaston talking to Yorkshire Post has expressed the similar opinion, pointing out the importance of ‘…national strategy with everybody working towards it‘ and argued that on every level, starting from the family to the business circles, it is vital to ‘bring it under one umbrella so people are working together, rather than different approaches in different directions‘. But as much as said above is apparent, the gender gap issue has more depth to it than education-business miscommunication.

The Equality-Unfriendly Business Culture

‘Work hard, play hard’ environment presents serious challenge to women in tech and entrepreneurship, as well as ‘all-boys clubs’, which still sadly exist in these dynamic and rapidly changing areas. And problems arising with maternity leave and eventually tackling family and work balance are not always the only factor pushing highly educated and professional ladies out of industry. Sarah Nahm in her interview to San Jose Mercury News, claims the very hiring process in tech industry to be ‘broken’ in terms of embracing diversity. ‘Pedigree is the silent bias in Silicon Valley‘, she says, ‘It has this aura of objectivity because it’s focused on your work experience but it’s actually part of the problem.’

There are more voices to confirm the point. Jo Taylor has been working in media and communication industry for a significant amount of time. During our phone talk, a sound HR specialist she is, Jo spoke about gender gap being a ‘bigger issue in professional services than in media‘. However, media technology sector faces serious drop-out of women in their 30-40s, as ‘24/7 mentality is for women with children to work in tough environment, and the positions they could hold in 20s they couldn’t do in 30s‘. She underlined the fact that ‘women [in digital and professional services] have to make decisions early in their career, because they have career gap, men don’t have a problem.’ Although today industry offers a lot of female role models, the official movement towards diversity is still in its infancy. However, Jo agreed with me on the extreme of forced diversity: ‘I don’t believe in quotas, I believe in people with right skills on a right job‘, she said.

Kathy Caprino does huge work in helping women from all around the world to establish themselves as professionals and succeed in careers they deserve. She was very friendly and approachable, though we could not hold the personal interviews, and provided me with lots of material on gender gap situation, which was true eye-opener. Despite the ascending trend in the number of women CEOs during the last 10 years, the real problem is that female CEOs usually join the companies at the times of crisis to sort the problems out… or to be blamed for the failure. 38% of women compared to 27% of men were made to leave their posts under mentioned circumstances. Kathy herself reflects on her experience of situation like this in her interview for CCTV America. ‘When you’re brought in to fix something, and yet the structure, and the organisation… are not going to support change then you’re not going to succeed, because again you’re not doing it on your own.’ Definitely a fly in the ointment, this big-players CEO policy.

Keep Calm And Build The Bridge

Dinal Limbachia, whom I finally got the pleasure to meet in person recently during the First Birthday Extravaganza event in SpacePortX, also had a lot to say on the topic from her personal experience of running Stop Talking Start Doing meetings. ‘For me, the lack of diverse talent in technology stems from our culture, our perceptions of women and the stereotypes that we attach to them. From the Ellen Pao scandal to the sexist tweet about the English Women’s football team, these issues are still rife in today’s society. For 2015, this is disappointing.’ She is positive about possible changes, though: ‘Responsibilities are held in two key places: at home and in schools. For a young person growing up, our ideas about what we can and can’t do are developed here. Creating an environment where girls and boys are treated equally is essential in order to build sustainable change for the future.’

It was written before about initiatives by Manchester tech ladies taken to make the gender situation more equal in local tech and startup scene. The climate for female entrepreneurs is becoming more favourable slowly but surely. However, currently the only British city named among the world’s best places for female-owned startups is London and even then it holds the second last place. So the bridge across the notorious gender gap is still being built, and Mancunian tech and business community members, both male and female, need a lot of mutual effort to reach the diversity.

P.S. You can follow the amazing ladies, some of whom kindly provided their personal opinions to you, truly to be quoted in the article, on Twitter and check out their websites and groups (links provided)!



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