Women are not often eager to pitch their skills or ambitions, they still believe that if they sit quietly and work hard, their diligence will be noticed. And it should work that way, but sadly, a lot of the time, it just doesn’t.
Cyan Ta’eed spoke at the Women’s Agenda Network Breakfast this morning about the myriad reasons we don’t have enough women in tech at any level, or enough women at senior levels of many other industries.
You don’t have to be pushy about it, but under pressure, people will often take the first solution to a problem. If someone is standing in front of you, putting their hand up and saying “I can do this”, and you know they’re work is good, you’ll often just say yes because you want it done. Women need to be putting their hands up more often.
When we have time to make considered decisions, like hiring or promoting, we might take more time, but even then, the person who has been in charge of small projects will be given bigger ones. And so it goes. That first pitch is really important, and we need to encourage more women to do it.
Despite the difficulties faced by women in STEM, Cyan was positive about the future.
We should totally be telling our girls to go into tech, everyone knows we need to hire more women; that pressure is only going to grow over the next few years. Girls and young women will have so many opportunities.
She also cited programs like Code Club, which is doing great work helping teachers keep up with kids in tech, and ensuring that girls are an equal part of the next generation of coders and developers.
She did acknowledge that it can be difficult getting gender diversity in tech departments, but she has had success in growing the number of women in her development team.
We put a line at the bottom of every job ad we post, saying that women are encouraged to apply, We offer flexible working arrangements to both men and women, which I think is really important. It’s not just women’s job to look after the kids first and her career second. Families and jobs are everyone’s issue and we need men to share those responsibilities equally if women want to have that freedom.
Despite everything we’ve done to encourage more women into the field, we’re still not at 50/50 in our development team. But that just means we keep working.
It’s not easy, if you’re trying to get more women into your team, if you’re trying to get your first woman into the team, that can be really off-putting. So we started by hiring women around the dev team – HR, admin, product – and that was some encouragement, that at least they’re not going to be the only woman in the room.
And we did a lot of work on sub-conscious perception bias, we all did the training, including me. Because there’s no way it can be so common everywhere else and not here. We’d be kidding ourselves if we thought we were immune. So we all did it and it really helped. Diversity is more that women, it’s about making sure we hire according to values, not similarities. We don’t want more people who look like us and think like us, we want more people who value what we value and can bring a different perspective on how to achieve it. Now that’s valuable to a business.