COVID-19 has obviously negatively impacted almost every industry, but even pandemics sometimes have positive side effects. Some have pointed to a potential environmental reset, though that idea was rather short lived. The reset that will actually last as a result of the pandemic is the one that might level the playing field for women in tech. Women often have difficulty shaking the stigma of being homemakers, but now everyone is stuck at home. Men working in tech, many of them dads, are also working from home and taking on responsibilities many used to delegate to the wife. The pandemic shows the world that women are more than qualified to be homemakers, while also having bright careers in tech—because everyone knows if a man can do it, a woman can too.
Being a stay at home dad has become increasingly popular for men in the last couple of years. In the U.S., father’s make up 17 percent of all stay at home parents and 24 percent of them reported they stay home because they want to care for the family. As more men are staying at home, more women are continuing to enter the workforce and climb through the ranks at many major corporations.
Enter COVID-19, now everyone—moms, dads, and kids—are all working and learning from home. Parents have to work together to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks. Men are learning to take a more hands-on role within the family, as kids continue virtual learning. This new family dynamic now proves to those in the tech industry that men are more than capable of taking care of their kids, contrary to the popular belief that women need to take on the responsibility at home. Working remotely also gives people more flexibility in their schedule and cuts down on the commute to work, which helps women juggle their office job with their family responsibilities.
COVID-19 has done anything but slow down the hi-tech industry. From medical innovations—like the different vaccines—to social media advertising growth, industry leaders didn’t allow for the pandemic to slow them down, partially because much of the work in tech can easily be performed remotely. Even with feminism on the rise, women make up less than 40 percent of the global workforce and only account for 25 percent of GAFAM’s (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) employees. This number is even lower for women in the tech sectors, about 23 percent, of these companies
As these companies flourish, many women are being left behind and are continuously passed over for promotions. According to a 2019 Silicon Valley Bank report, 56 percent of startups have a women executive, while only 40 percent have at least one woman on the board of directors. Many tech companies, 59 percent according to the previous report, are starting initiatives to help bolster the number of women in leadership roles.
Over the last 30 years women with STEM degrees have also begun to decline according to a 2016 survey from the National Girls Collaborative Project. The survey shows that in the 1990s women earned about one-half of the Bachelor’s of Science and Engineering degrees, but it has dramatically declined. In 2015, women received half of all the B.S. degrees in biological sciences, but only 18 percent of computer science degrees and only 20 percent of engineering degrees were obtained by women.
Even as the number of women in STEM decreases, there are proven benefits of having women working in the hi-tech industry. A multitude of Fortune 500 companies with at least 3 women in leadership positions saw a 66 percent increase in ROI. Women have different perspectives than men. With more diversity on the team, new discoveries and ideas will be heard and problems can be solved by looking at the scenario through a different lens
Women also often have different approaches to problem solving and gaps in the market, that men may not see. Plus, females have always had “something to prove,” regardless if it’s on the playground, in the classroom or the office. That go-getter attitude transitions seamlessly into the tech worksphere.
There is a preconceived notion that in order to work in tech one must be a programmer, developer, or “techy.” But this is just not the case. Account management, marketing, sales, content, human resources, are just a few different fields within a tech company that women can take leadership roles within.
However, this isn’t to say a woman should feel like the only place for her in a hi tech company is in a non-technical role. These preconceived notions are what are keeping women in traditional roles and makes it harder to break glass ceilings. As life begins to transition back into “normalcy,” we should look to change what is considered normal. Now is the perfect opportunity to push for more gender inclusion. It’s clear that there are easy ways to implement a more inclusive workspace—so now is the time to capitalize on this newfound flexibility.
About The Author
Anna Znamenskaya is the chief growth officer of Rakuten Viber. She is an experienced digital executive, who has held senior marketing and business roles and several leading international tech organizations at the convergence of mobile, fintech, ecommerce, adtech, and online content. Ms. Znamenskaya has over 15 years of experience in senior positions and has extensive expertise in digital product management and growth. She also holds the ability to create and manage teams of highly-qualified professionals.