Want to do better in your technology career? Look for ways to increase your sense of belonging and network by Aarti Sabhaney

Automatic Summary

Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Technology

Hello from Singapore! Congratulations to all the women who have joined today's session and are geared up to make significant impacts in the technology industry. I'm Aarti Sabani, a consultant, diversity advocate, academic, and technology geek, and today I'd like to discuss an important topic. My research revolves around the underrepresentation of women in technology and AI, and I am delighted to share my insights with you.

The Current State of Women in Tech

Deloitte predicts a 2% increase of women in global technology companies this year, amounting to a 33% female representation. While this is a significant increase, it is still far from the 50-50 ratio we strive for. As per Accenture, only 25% of tech graduates are women, and unfortunately, half of these women leave technology before they turn 35.

As we navigate these statistics, let us ponder the factors driving the underrepresentation of women in the technology sector. Are there certain barriers discouraging women from entering and remaining in the tech industry? And more importantly, how can we address these challenges?

The Challenges Faced by Women in Tech

The Impact of Recent World Events

Research suggests that disasters and world events affect women more significantly than men. For instance, a recent study reveals that women have taken longer to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than their male counterparts. Along with this, women in the workforce have faced the harsher end of the pandemic experience, often feeling overwhelmed with added responsibilities at work and home.

Dealing with Stereotype Threat

Another significant challenge women encounter in male-dominated environments is the stereotype threat. This refers to the anxiety women experience regarding their gender in masculine spaces. A typical example is the presumption that women are not as proficient in math. Such stereotypes put immense pressure on women, causing them self-doubt, decreased performance, and disengagement.

Enhancing the Sense of Belonging in Tech

To combat these stressors and increase our well-being, we need to boost our sense of belonging in the tech industry. Here are three strategies for achieving this:

  1. Look Up: Find a role model. Research reveals that seeing a role model with similar qualities to you can reassure you of your potential for success. Your role model doesn't have to be a celebrity; they can be someone within your organization or network who inspires you.
  2. Look Around: Connect with allies, mentors, sponsors, and peers. These relationships can help navigate your career path, broaden your perspective, and boost your confidence. Small supportive gestures from allies and sponsors can make a huge difference in your career journey.
  3. Charge Forth: Remember, you belong in the tech industry. Maintain your performance, hard work and dedication. This can be the most powerful assertion of your place in tech.

Please feel free to reach out for any questions, and remember, look up, look around, and charge forth. It's an honor to unite with talented, motivated women wanting to make an impact in the technology industry. Thank you.

Video Transcription

Hello from Singapore and congratulations to the women who have joined the session and are all set to make a strong impact in the technology industry. I'm Aarti Sabani and I don many hats. I'm a consultant at a technology company. I am an advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion.

I'm also an academician, but most importantly, I'm a geek. I don't code I decode through my personal observations and research. And in today's session, I play the role of a researcher who has written a paper on the underrepresentation of women in engineering and A I. So let's take a look at some of the numbers Deloitte predicts that by this year, global technology companies will witness a 2% increase of women in their workforce and that would take it to a 33% of female representation. Far from the 5050 ratio that we talk about accenture has pointed out that only 25% of tech graduates are women and 50% of women drop out of technology before the age of 35. So let's take a step back and think through what is driving the underrepresentation of women in technology. Is it just a matter of choice or are there certain factors that may discourage women from joining the industry? And why is it that women who do decide to join the industry sometimes feel like failures and drop out of these domains to add to this complexity. Research has also shown that disasters impact women far more than they impact men and a paper around COVID-19 shows that women have been, have taken far longer to to recover from the impact of the global pandemic as compared to men.

So over and above the gender bias and the stereotype threat that women face at the workplace, they've also taken the sharper end of the pandemic experience. How many of you all have felt depleted with additional responsibilities, both at work and at home, you're definitely not alone because research points out that all of us have taken the brunt. So now that we've talked about these challenges, let's talk a little bit around stereotype threat.

What is stereotype threat? It's the anxiety that women experience in masculine environments around their gender. For example, women sometimes feel that they don't develop math and this, this kind of experience actually puts a lot of pressure on them internally and they start questioning their capabilities which hampers and interferes in them, managing the performance on hand and ultimately them feeling disengaged.

So now that we've talked about the problem, what can we do to nurture ourselves against these stressors and increase our sense of? Well, being, I propose that we do this by increasing our sense of belonging in the tech industry. The three ideas that I pro proposed today are important to both genders. However, in masculine environments, given that women often feel less than optimistic about their careers, they need to make deliberate attempts to feel even more connected to people within the industry.

So how can we increase our sense of belonging? The first is look up, I know some of my colleagues on the conference have already covered finding a role model. Finding a role model is extremely important. Research has shown that if you see a role model who has similar qualities, as you, you feel assured about your potential for success in S A conducted a study in Latin America, which was extremely interesting. It showed that just within an advertisement that was meant to attract more coders into the profession, having a female role model actually attracted double the number of women applicants. And that's what that's how reassured they felt by just seeing an image of a woman of a woman within the advertisement. So who are these role models? Not all of them need to be celebrities? They can be people who we meet and interact with on a day to day basis. My role model is within my organization and I've reached out to her to discuss and understand how is she essentially paving her own career path. Her career journey is fascinating and her her behaviors continue to inspire me. The next is look around, look around and connect, connect with mentors, connect with allies with sponsors and with peers.

The uh having a peer can greatly in having a mentor can greatly help remove distractions from one's career path. And in fact, studies have also shown that just connecting with the peer has helped women gain more confidence and broaden their perspective. In fact, a study by trust Radius shows that the second highest barrier that women have cited within the tech industry is lack of mentors allies. As we all know, can help to advocate for women. And sometimes they can carry out very simple interventions. Even in a meeting, sometimes they can just come across and and point out that you may have been interrupted by a male colleague, small supportive gestures such as this can greatly help you to feel more encouraged in your career journey sponsors as we are aware, can help us in professional development and accelerating our career goals and peers and networking.

The importance of networking has again been established by rear in research, which is women who've attended a women only conference have actually had experienced a greater chance of promotion and up to three times more uh possibility of having an a 10% salary increase within five years.

So look around and find your peers and create a strong circle of uh supporters who can not only make add more meaning to your career journey, but also make it more enjoyable and lastly charge forth while our sense of well being and sense of belonging can definitely come from people around us.

We need to remind ourselves that we belong in the tech industry and of course, nothing can replace hard work, performance and delivery. And here are some of the references for more reading material. I'd like to essentially share my email. If you all have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. It's been an absolute honor to be part of this platform that unites women who are talented and motivated and want to make an impact in the technology industry. So now look up, look around and charge for it. Thank you.