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Women in Tech: From Second Class to Business Class

ICOM-Ladies.jpgTomorrow is International Woman’s Day, an annual awareness day designed to promote equality for women – a campaign often derided by men for being silly, because women are already equal. As a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I can tell you straight up that this generally isn’t the case. An article published last October explains that “...while 57% of occupations in the workforce are held by women, in computing occupations that figure is only 25%.”

The problem with this imbalance is that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, with women leaving tech jobs (IT, coding, web design, SEO) in droves because they often feel intimidated by the a male-dominated environment. Throughout my 10+ years in the industry I have seen women harassed because they raised complaints about agencies using half-naked women to promote their services at conferences or to promote the actual conferences and I have seen female peers propositioned and physically harassed by men at conferences and I have been told that women speakers regularly attract smaller audiences and lower ratings simply because they are women.  I’ve abandoned networking events at conferences when they moved to strip clubs.

And how do we deal with the issue? Well we produce posts like this one.

Sexism is alive and well in the tech industry.

I’ve seen the arguments that there just are not enough qualified women, but my experience is quite the opposite – and looking around the I-COM offices tends to support what I see.  We have a mix of roughly 50% women – and this includes 4 of 8 senior management positions. We also have a woman who sits on our board.

As a company with an unusual percentage of women, we find it very easy to recruit other talented women – and to provide a welcoming environment. We also find that it helps us serve our clients better because it helps us provide additional points of view, and it helps us to build the best teams for each of our clients.  Having lots of ladies in the office sometimes even creates a more relaxed atmosphere – when I’ve been the only woman I’ve found that my male colleagues were often so worried about offending me that they either didn’t joke around or they simply didn’t include me. We don’t have that problem here.

Ridding our industry of its innate sexism will encourage more women to remain in their jobs. It will encourage them to go out to networking events and conferences and to mentor young people and encourage those young people to go into tech jobs. Having women in tech jobs helps tech companies because having women around provides those necessary different points of view to help drive creativity and innovation and to deliver good marketing campaigns across more, different industries. 

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