Any woman (or person) that currently works in digital only has to look around to see that there is a disproportionate ratio of men to women in the industry. According to UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), women only make up 26% of the digital workforce in the UK.
To add to this, tech industry giants who should be leading the way when it comes to diversity, sadly, conform to this worrying trend.
Here are the percentages of female employees at some of the biggest names in digital:
Google - 28%
Facebook - 29%
Twitter - 28%
Microsoft - 24%
Apple - 29%
Those in leadership roles are even fewer.
Treatment of women in the workplace
It is a sad reality that when women enter a male dominated workplace, they are regularly treated differently to a man. This can manifest in several ways, including being sexualised, stereotyped, harassed or discriminated by colleagues and superiors.
Sexism can take one of two forms, overt sexism, and everyday sexism. While most people are all too familiar with overt sexism (such as catcalls and harassment), everyday sexism often goes under the radar and is deemed acceptable by many, particularly when disguised as ‘just a laugh’.
Below are examples of women telling their stories to the poignant Twitter account, @EverydaySexism:
When incidents like this happen, the victim often feels too embarrassed or awkward to go to HR, often fearing their job is on the line if they come forward.
Male-dominated tech conferences
It’s not just in the workplace that this gender bias appears, it seems tech conferences are plagued by this uneven gender split, too.
Recent stats released by Manchester Digital show the ratio of male and female speakers at some of the most popular tech conferences in the north. The results showed that on average, women only make up 25% of speakers, a percentage that mirrors the disappointingly low 26% of females working in digital.
Ask any woman who's been to a tech conference, not only is the speaker line-up dominated by men, but the attendees follow this trend, too. This can often make for an intimidating atmosphere for women who feel like a minority at such events.
But why are these percentages so low? Is it simply because women aren’t interested in the digital sector? Is it discrimination against our sex? Or is it a male-dominated industry that intimidates women?
Feminism in pop culture
In recent mainstream culture, feminist issues are becoming more frequently discussed, giving the issue some much-needed recognition. Examples of this include Jennifer Lawrence’s essay on the gender pay gap, the #wheniwas hashtag trending on Twitter and artists such as Beyoncé making feminism an ever-present theme in her music.
What’s more, in 2015, searches for the word ‘feminism’ grew 27% compared to 2014, proving that this is clearly a topic on everybody's lips.
But when will our interest in social justice start to reflect itself in the digital workplace?
I-COM bucks the trend
I-COM’s percentage of female employees currently stands at 47%, almost double the national average of just 26%.
We feel this is exactly the reason why our working atmosphere feels supportive, equal and unintimidating - qualities that every workplace should have. This makes it easier for women to start a job at I-COM, but most importantly, feel welcome.
Why should we aim for an equal balance?
It is hugely important to have an equal balance of genders in the digital industry. Not only does it promote a healthy working environment, but it also means that different opinions and ideas can be heard, challenging the norm and making us better at what we do as an agency.
I asked a handful of my fellow female colleagues their thoughts on the patriarchal tech industry. Here’s what they had to say...
So, what are your thoughts on the ever-present debate of women in tech? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us over at @i_com.