How to attract women to the tech sector

How to attract women to the tech sector
Creating a favourable environment that encourages participation and contribution from women is to be encouraged

By Rania Zalami

Published: Sat 17 Sep 2016, 7:33 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Sep 2016, 6:26 AM

Creative and diverse environments encourage innovation. In the technology industry where innovation is perceived as a game changer, it is ironic that women still barely represent a substantial number of the workforce. According to a McKinsey report, companies that practice gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to enjoy financial success than companies that do not.
Companies must work towards embracing gender diversity, as it allows more room for innovation and brings together different set of skills and approaches for success. In order to uncap the wealth of knowledge that women in technology represent, companies have to find ways to attract new female candidates to the technology industry and to nurture them.
Here are a few ways to ensure that the technology sector employs a greater percentage of women leaders in the future.
Forming a support system
Creating a favourable environment that encourages participation and contribution from women is to be encouraged. In the IT sector, where decisions have to be made quickly, ensuring the decision makers are a diverse group, will pave the way for better decisions. Women are more empathetic thinkers and this will bring fresh perspectives in developing user friendly technology. In order to raise the women leaders of tomorrow, we need to make sure they feel valued and their contributions to the team are acknowledged. This will encourage them to share their ideas more openly.
Walk the talk
To 'Walk the Talk', organisations need to provide networking events, to promote team work and let female employees become more engaged in a male dominated work culture. Encourage your female colleagues to share their experiences about working in the technology field not only at conferences, but also at university career fairs to encourage more female students to pursue a future in the technology industry.
What gives women more opportunities to succeed is mentoring relationships. Mentorship programs within organisations help set clear career paths and provide support and encouragement for women. This is something Meltwater is very committed to and I have personally benefitted from mentorship from my managers.
Organise company women's network, where there are opportunities for honest and open conversations about career expectations and any issues; for instance, discuss the challenges of a new Mom returning to the workforce as she has to manage her new responsibilities plus her career obligations
Give room for a better work-life balance
These days, as most of the work can be done remotely with the advancement of cloud and smart technology, it is possible to give women flexible working hours to adhere to a full-time work schedule when juggling with their family life. A company should support its employees, especially the women to make choices for a better balance in their personal and professional lives, which in turn, will lead to more productivity.
According to a report published by the Corporate Executive Board that represents majority of the Fortune 500 companies, individuals who have a good work-life balance tend to work 21 per cent more productively than those who lack this concept.
Opportunities for personal development
To thrive in an organisation, opportunities for personal development are an important factor. Champion women's career advancement by including them in discussions at a senior level. This gives women an opportunity to hone their skills and talents which will guide them to the next level of their career, expand their network, and connect with their role models who have been successful in their field. Similarly, scope for promotion and leadership roles will increase the retention rate of women employees.
Having women leaders in organisations leads to different dynamics, a much wider way to tackle issues, identify opportunities and innovate. Gender diversity is a necessity as it brings a larger talent pool to the labour force and companies that do not recognise this will be left behind.
The writer is managing director at Meltwater UAE. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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