The case for women in tech or why it’s key to build positive nudges for female enrollment in the tech industry
Last week, one of my peers at Le Wagon told me he was slightly backslashed by one of his information session’s attendees over the subject of the discounts we make to encourage female enrollment in the bootcamp. “This is sexist!” the female attendee said.
While I understand that such reaction may stem from a legitimate equalitarian mindset, and I’m 100% standing up for gender diversity through neutrality as an ultimate purpose (whatever gender you’d want to call yourself, hypergender if the case may be), I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight why it’s key to support female engagement in the innovative labour markets such as the tech industry. At the risk of bringing attention to being a woman and talking about gender, which I have been told way too many times not to do…
One preliminary fact-based acknowledgment: the tech industry is still widely male-dominated!
By male-dominated we mean that it is very common that the best positions are taken by men, early on, and the highest salaries and packages are given to men.
A few facts here — from one of the most mature and documented tech market, the US one:
- women not only are hired in lower numbers than men are; they also leave tech at more than twice the rate men do for the workplace conditions, the lack of access to key roles and the feeling of being stalled they get early on;
- the average female programmer makes nearly 30% less than her male counterpart ;
- the gap is largest for women early in their careers, with women under 25 earning on average 29% less than men their age, while the gap drops to only 5% for workers over 50 ;
Got the picture? Ok, great! Now, what do we do about it?
One actionable way to address the systemic gender bias: building positive nudges for having more highly qualified and recognized women in tech
Increasing the number of women applying to tech jobs should be a main focus. To apply for such jobs, they need to be trained. And to overcome the deep-seated unconscious bias that tech jobs and opportunities might not be for them. This change won’t happen overnight, a combination of positive nudges for women to embrace tech is needed.
I personally benefited from a scholarship for excellence from the French government for my higher education. It most certainly allowed me to make one of my childhood dreams come true: attend an Ivy League (as an exchange student). It meant I could benefit from a year that costed $49K for about 0€, and not worry about my expenses as a student. The signal for me was super-powerful: it expressed that some very demanding people actually believed in my potential. I could focus on absorbing methods-for-success and connecting with people that had been raised for becoming world leaders without having to worry about making ends meet. A few years down the line, when it became obvious to me that I needed tech skills to embark upon a new entrepreneurial path and I decided to go for Le Wagon, I swapped my little “bonus” and paid-vacations for this intense training that could take me to my next personal and professional step. Bonus that, for the record, and at the risk of sounding confrontational, was much lower than any of my male-peers despite the acknowledged fact that I had been working on the most challenging assignments with the best possible results with the extension or the renewal of very profitable consulting assignments with my clients. But hey, as I had been told: “it’s not that bad for you, isn’t it?!”… this is only one of the numerous sexist barriers I came to meet at the start of my career.
Be it only for the positive signal it may bring to females out there seeking a life-changing experience towards a more fulfilling position, I am very proud that Le Wagon leaders, who are considerate and supportive to female, set a positive tone for increasing diversity in the tech industry, with discounts, partnerships very early on with organizations such as Girls in Tech, etc.
Gender diversity is beneficial to all, and should be a commonly addressed-challenge
Last but not least: gender diversity in the labour market being entirely positive in terms of financial but also, and most importantly, social performance, I believe men and women need to work hands-in-hands towards this goal. I am no one to judge other women and the possible struggles that brought them to their reactions towards things like discounts offered to them. I must say nonetheless that I regret that some women feel attacked or questioned when men are trying to make it easier for them to seize opportunities. Let’s choose the right battle, against those that actually make it harder to untap our potential for fulfillment! In my so-far rather short entrepreneurial journey, I realized I found a lot more unfailing and enthused concrete support coming from progressive men than women, be it through useful connections, appreciated boosts and patient mentorship. I am very grateful for this support, that I will very much bear in mind, and I believe it actually serves a higher purpose than just helping my sympathetic self. Everyone doing a little bit to help fix issues of access to opportunities on a gender-neutral meritocratic basis helps a ton! After all, there’s a huge responsibility that lies upon the tech industry that indeed transformed how we learn, think, buy, travel, cook, socialize, live, love and work… and that could make more in terms of transforming how we reward creativity and effort! Let’s make it embrace fully the female potential!