Gender inequality can often feel overwhelming. Statistics tell us that less than 25% of tech jobs are held by women in developed countries. To add salt to the wound, that ‘minority’ group are not only getting paid less than their male counterparts, but the gap is widening. Case in point: a recent Workplace Gender Equality Study looking at the differences between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time earnings across all industries, found that the gender pay gap rose in technology from 18.5% in November 2016 to 19.1% in 2017.
Today we are encouraged to #pressforprogress and commit to a “gender parity mindset” via progressive action. With this in mind, I am choosing not to be weighed down by the inequity that stats demonstrate, and rather celebrate the small wins. While not yet equal in number to men, today women are leading some of the world’s biggest technology companies and are leading by example. It’s that progress we should celebrate; and celebrate these women that are the change makers.
“Nearly 50% of men think that when just 1 in 10 senior leaders in their company is a woman, that’s sufficient” wrote Sheryl Sandberg in an op ed for the New York Times. Known as one of the tech industry’s most visible feminists and as COO of one of the world’s most successful tech companies, Facebook, Sheryl says that achieving gender equality starts with knowing how far we have to go. Through the work of her Lean In organisation, Sandberg released a report into Women in The Workplace with McKinsey and Co, highlighting startling insights about women and work that she’s determined to address. Highlighting just how far we have to go, Sandberg’s report found men are not only less likely to say gender diversity is a top personal priority, some men even feel that gender diversity efforts disadvantage them: 15 percent of men think their gender will make it harder for them to advance. Not one to rest on her laurels, Sheryl has been sharing the message of workplace gender equality in typically male domains. “Go back and be loud and clear, especially if you are a male, that you are committed to mentoring women. It will make a huge difference,” Sandberg said at the Morgan Stanley 2018 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
It would be remiss not to mention Grace Hopper when referring to the women who shaped tech as we know it today. Born in 1906, Hopper was a computer scientist and US Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of IBM’s Harvard Mark I computer, used in WWII. She was a pioneer of computer programming and invented one of the first compiler related tools – software that transforms computer codes. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages in the 1950’s, which eventuated into ‘common business’ computer language, COBOL which is still in use today. This invention led Hopper to be affectionately became known as the Grandmother of COBOL. Hopper passed away in 1992 but her legacy lives on in many ways; a college at Yale has been named in her honour and in 2016 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
Named amongst Forbes Power Women in 2017, Jean Liu is the president of Didi Chuxing, China’s answer to UBER, and the country’s largest transportation platform providing transportation services for more than 450 million users across over 400 cities in China. Since joining the business in 2014, Liu has been instrumental in helping the business win multi-billion dollar investments and strategic partnerships with the world’s leading ride-hailing companies via investments and cooperation in products and technology. After buying Uber’s China operation in 2016, Didi Chuxing is now thought to be valued at $50 billion. Having studying Computer Science in China and achieving a Master’s Degree at Harvard; technology is in her blood – Liu is the daughter of Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi. Liu has made a name for herself most recently being named in TIME’s 20 Most Influential People in Tech; one of only five women who made the global list.
Women changing the way we think
Behind many great companies are great women changing the way we think, act and do thanks to technology. These trail blazers are making decisions that not only affect their work place, but also influence our future. I hope that in the next iteration of TIME Magazines’ ’20 Most Influential People in Tech’, women account for more than a quarter of the list. While the gradient may be slower than we desire; we must also celebrate how far we’ve come – something Grace Hopper would be so proud of.
Women Love Tech would like to thank Isentia CTO Andrea Walsh for her story.
Andrea works at www.isentia.com