has gender been left behind?


In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity and inclusion in tech event, in partnership with Spinks, panel members discuss how to achieve gender diversity in the UK’s tech sector in the light of the negative impacts of the pandemic.

Gender diversity is where the conversation surrounding diversity in the technology sector began, but the dial still hasn’t shifted significantly over the last 10 years.

The pandemic has hit women harder than most, with many having to leave their roles in affected industries with disproportionate amounts of women, such as retail or hospitality. Other were forced to cut back on hours take care of their children full time during lockdown learning.

With Covid-19 highlighting the work that still needs to be done for equality, what can be done to create better gender diversity in the tech workplace? And has gender diversity fallen by the wayside in the conversation surrounding tackling the tech sector’s diversity gap?

Panel members:

  • Stephanie Melodia, director, Bloom
  • Simon Hopkins, co-Founder and COO, Angel Academe
  • Chris Meah, CEO and founder, School of Code
  • Melanie Hayes, CPO, Harvey Nash Group

Some of the questions asked, and the advice given:

Women’s networks are often considered not to be inclusive, but to advance gender diversity in the technology sector men have to be part of the conversation. What role should men play in advancing gender diversity?

  • In some cases it’s up to women to decide what role men should play in things such as women’s networks
  • Men should be part of the conversation surrounding diversity in the industry
  • Women’s networks should be inclusive for allies
  • Share perspectives with different people – people in tech know that solving problems needs a mixture of different mindsets
  • Men who are investors should be considering investment in female founders – not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it makes good business sense

What do you think organisations can do to reverse the pandemic’s affect on equality in the tech sector?

  • Ensure managers have the right training – they should be able to take advantage of the strengths of each individual team member rather than lean on certain skillsets
  • Address issues around parenthood setting people back – employees are often on an equal footing when they join an organisation but in many cases parenthood disrupts the equilibrium
  • The pandemic has accelerated positive change in the sector, but also brough its own challenges, including home schooling, and a stress on relationship dynamic
  • Automation may end up having a bigger impact on diversity and equity than the pandemic has
  • Focus on retraining and ensuring adults, as well as young people, have access to ongoing education
  • There is often a focus on how to help women in tech who are parents, but how can we also focus on helping those who are child free?
  • Often women don’t apply for roles because they don’t feel qualified, despite being perfect for the job – offer women as many opportunities as men in organisations, helping them to realise their capability in certain roles
  • Address some of the reasons girls do not go into tech careers – much of education is focused on people who are already interested in technology
  • Amplify differing voices, challenge both male and female stereotypes

What practical takeaways can you give to the audience?

  • Think of buying from female-led businesses when buying products and services for your company
  • Help improve the education system
  • Don’t just listen to the loudest voices

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