Gender Equality in IT: What’s Still to Be Done?

The number of women in tech has increased over the years. However, this field is still known for insufficient female representation, due to the many challenges that still need to be addressed. What can still be done to achieve gender equality in access and career progression in technology?


Several barriers still need to be overcome to get more female professionals into this field, including the lack of role models, disparities in children’s education, and the wage gap that still exists between men and women.

Several actions can be taken at different levels to defy all the current biased assumptions and encourage more women to pursue successful careers in technology. In this article, I’ll give you a few examples on how to do it.



Gender Equality in IT: What’s Still to Be Done?


Creating Role Models


We know that the lack of representation is one of the main reasons that prevents many women from pursuing a career in technology. The best way to tackle this is by creating role models. This implies providing opportunities and a “stage”, or a platform, for women who hold senior positions in the field, so that they can inspire other women. 

The main goals of the Portuguese Women in Tech (PWIT) community are to support established women in technology and attract more female talent to the field by increasing visibility and offering mentoring, training, and networking opportunities.

One of their strategies is to showcase women in leadership positions. On their website, they tell the stories of women who have built (and are building) the technology landscape in Portugal, so as to inspire other women and attract them to the field.


Introducing Technology in Education


It’s crucial that technology topics are included in education from an early age, to show children that engineering isn’t only for boys. With this in mind, some initiatives have been developed to inspire young Portuguese girls.

In 2021, the PWIT community created the Future PWIT initiative together with E-REDES with the aim of inspiring young students between the ages of 10 and 18 spread across 800 schools all over Portugal to pursue a career in technology. The long-term goal would be to reach a better gender balance in the sector within 10 years. This project helps young people, teachers, and families understand that the world of technology is available to all by providing access to working tools to be used in the classroom, including inspirational material and practical exercises.


Developing Initiatives on Career Retraining


Access to quality information about technology is important in educating future generations, but it can also make all the difference in the lives of adults who would like to pursue a career in technology. 

Fortunately, some initiatives on career retraining have been created to encourage more women to enter the technology sector. One of these is Raparigas do Código.

This young community focuses on promoting digital inclusion through activities that teach programming to girls and women, from elementary school to higher education. They promote activities such as programming clubs, hackathons, webinars, and gatherings.

Another program called She Codes launched its first course in Portugal in 2017. This program offers a free set of workshops designed to teach the basics of programming, design, and management to women who are interested in pursuing a career in technology.


Deconstructing the Role of Women as the Main Carers of Children and Families


At the company level, the possibility of aligning working hours with family duties, such as caring for children or family members, as well as the ability to work from home, in a hybrid or remote model, is an advantage for both men and women. However, it ends up affecting women the most, as they are still traditionally taking on most of the household and familial duties – which brings us to what, in my opinion, is the main obstacle, not to entry, but to the progression of women throughout their careers, not just in technology, but in any field.

Creating conditions for men to perform tasks that are traditionally assigned to women is also a way of promoting gender equality. This requires empathy and openness on the part of companies to help both men and women deal with their private life challenges. For example, by helping to deconstruct the gender stereotype that assumes that women are the main carers of children, supporting men who decide to take on this role and giving women the chance to focus on their careers. 

Despite all the initiatives that promote women’s inclusion in technology, without a family support network to back them up, so that they don’t have to choose between career and family, it will always be extremely challenging to make progress, which is why it is crucial to deconstruct the role of women as the main carers of children and family members.

Finally, according to the report “Women in Tech: The Best Bet to Solve Europe’s Talent Shortage” from McKinsey & Company, with twice as many women in technology jobs, the European Union’s GDP could increase by up to 600 billion by 2027. It’s therefore urgent to invest in initiatives such as those mentioned in this article. 



Gender Equality in IT: Final Thoughts


Inclusion and career progression of more women in technology is our ethical duty, but it is also a huge competitive edge!

Summing up, the covered points, it’s very important to:

  • Create inspiring role models for young girls; 
  • Include technology in the education of young children and make it attractive to females from an early age; 
  • Develop initiatives dedicated to career reconversion, so that more women can help make up the shortage of professionals in the field; 
  • Help deconstruct the role of women as primary caregivers and give men the privileges and opportunities they need so that women can focus on their careers.

These are some of the actions that we can take to reduce the gap between men and women in the technology industry. Some of them can be taken right away, others can be taken with the help of partners, such as Raparigas do Código, She Codes or Women in Tech. 

Keeping in mind that we haven’t yet achieved gender equality in tech and that this challenge is everyone’s problem and responsibility (individual citizens, companies, and the government), this is the first step to start addressing this cause as something that we all need to work on.