The State of Gender Equity in Tech: A Gradual Yet Uneven Progress

Throughout the years, we’ve seen some progress in the state of gender equity in tech. However, numbers show that women remain underrepresented and underpaid in this field. The Web Summit’s annual State of Gender Equity in Tech report paints us a current picture of gender equity in the workplace.


The issue of gender equity has sparked a lot of conversation over the years and it’s easy to assume that the gender gap has improved. However, the progress in the field of tech has been slower than in other fields.

Diverse IT teams are key to better performance, yet we still see a lack of representation of women in tech, which can be attributed to a wide variety of factors. To better understand them, we’ll be taking a closer look at this year’s State of Gender Equity in Tech report by the Web Summit, taking a deep dive into the current issues women still face in the tech field.



What is Workplace Gender Equity?


Workplace gender equity describes the equal representation of all genders and access to opportunities, rewards, experiences, and resources. In an equitable environment, all professionals have comparable value and receive equal pay for their work and there’s also an equal level of participation.

Regardless of their gender, workers have access to all available occupations, including leadership roles, and there’s no sort of gender-based discrimination, particularly when it comes to caring and family responsibilities.



The State of Gender Equity in Tech – Where We Are Today


This year’s State of Gender Equity in Tech report by the Web Summit interviewed almost 500 women in the tech field, painting us a clear picture of the evolution of this industry’s current landscape.

While most of them were from Europe, 15.4 percent came from North America, 4.4 percent from South America, and 7.9 percent stemmed from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Women with ages between 35 and 44 years were the most represented (42 percent) followed by younger millennials with ages between 25 and 34 years, accounting for 32.2 percent of respondents. 

Around half of the respondents reported that their companies lacked establishing appropriate measures to implement equity and inclusion and to fight gender inequality. The same amount of women disclosed experiencing episodes of sexism in the workplace in the past year.

The major ongoing obstacles include a lack of women in leadership roles, conscious and unconscious bias, and balancing family and career. However, not all results were negative. Well over 50% of respondents claimed to have senior women leaders at their workplace and feel empowered to pursue higher-ranking roles themselves. 

They also claim to feel respected by their peers and supported by their companies in terms of professional development.



The Major Issues


Lack of Women in Leadership Roles


In this report, while the majority of women identified having at least one woman in senior management, over 59 percent of them still reported a lack of women in leadership roles as one of the major obstacles faced by women in tech.

76.1 percent of women feel empowered to pursue leadership roles, but only around 53 percent report that their companies are effectively taking measures to combat gender inequality in the workplace. 21 percent of respondents unfortunately feel their workplace isn’t doing enough to address this issue.

But why is there still a lag when it comes to women in leadership roles in the tech field? In this industry, a pervasive “bro culture” still rules over the environment in many companies. Women often find their ideas undervalued and dismissed, face harassment, interruptions, and constant “mansplaining”.

The significant gender gap among employees helps perpetuate a cycle in which women are overlooked for promotions and advancement, making them a rare sight in leadership roles.


Conscious and Unconscious Bias


Over 75 percent of the respondents identified conscious and unconscious bias as a major concern and challenge in tech today. More than half of these women experienced at least an episode of sexism in the workplace in the past year, which is 4 percent more than what was detailed in the previous report.

A quote from one of the respondents described the environment at their company as “the boys’ club”. Many of the women surveyed in this report feel as though they need to work harder to prove themselves because of their gender.

Conscious and unconscious gender bias in the tech workplace can manifest in a wide variety of ways. They often translate into business leaders leaning towards hiring male workers, appreciating their ideas and contributions more, and referring them for promotions, even if there are equally qualified women employees with the same skillsets and experience.

Companies should make an effort to combat all sorts of gender bias in the workplace, as it leads to employee emotional distress, disengagement, and lower retention rates.


Balancing Family and Career


There has been a decrease in the number of women who feel forced to choose between having a family or a career (41.8 percent) in comparison to last year’s report (50.4 percent). While this is a positive evolution, effectively balancing family and career is still a pressing challenge for women in tech.

The tech industry is fast-paced and demanding in nature and oftentimes women don’t have access to the flexibility required to pursue a career and raise a family at the same time. To attract and retain female professionals, many companies offer enticing maternity leaves, flexible working hours, and remote work options. 

However, this is still not the case for most tech companies that still require their employees to work long hours, join early morning meetings in person, and travel around the world for business ventures.


Societal and Governmental Responsibility


In the report, approximately 35 percent of women believe society has the responsibility when it comes to improving gender equality, while 20.6 percent of respondents feel the government does. The majority, however, of 74.6 percent of women defend that society, government, individuals, and the private sector hold a collective responsibility.

57.9 percent of respondents report that their government isn’t doing enough to ensure gender equality and 51.8% of them agree that the tech industry isn’t taking appropriate measures to combat the issue.

In many countries, the root cause of gender inequality is the role and place society assigns to women. Women are still traditionally viewed as caregivers, making it difficult to accept them as tech leaders and entrepreneurs, translating into fewer offers and opportunities.

In parallel, governments have the power to combat gender inequality and discrimination through laws and policies, yet this power is often overlooked. In certain countries, there’s incomplete or missing data on the economic, political, and social contributions of women, which often leads to poor decision-making, reduced investment, and discriminatory policies.



A Glimpse of Progress


There’s still a long way to go when it comes to reaching a state of gender equity in tech, however, this report also highlighted some important progress, especially when it came to professional development, upskilling opportunities, and diversity, equity and inclusion measures.

67.8 percent of respondents feel supported in their professional development endeavors and 60.2 percent of them reported that their companies offer upskilling opportunities within their current roles. One of the interviewed women stated that their firm “empowers everyone to be the best version of themselves”.

A big majority of women (73.1 percent) reported that their companies actively support diversity, equity, and inclusion while 56 percent of them believe that to make real progress for women in tech companies need to offer adequate training over the next five to ten years.



The State of Gender Equity in Tech – Final Regards


The state of gender equity in tech is an ongoing issue that needs to continually be addressed. There’s still much to overcome in this industry for the sake of women from all around the world, but luckily, there’s also some progress being made. 

To find actionable measures that you can start applying in order to improve female representation in tech, take a look at this article. And if you’re interested in working for a company that equally supports its employees in their personal and professional endeavors, you should consider joining us at KWAN! Make sure to reach out to us and keep up with our latest opportunities!