Women in tech – industry where men outnumber women

Women in tech – industry where men outnumber women


2017 has only just started but we are back to business as usual, pacing fast excited about opportunities ahead. One of the points on our busy agenda is the biggest mobile industry gathering Mobile World Congress 2017. We’re looking forward to listening to key speakers and discussing what’s going to be big in tech this year, as well as showcasing our tools. (If you want to catch up with us at MWC, you can register today).

While browsing the event agenda, we discovered a topic that is close to our heart. MWC2017 decided to launch a new programme “Women 4 Tech”  addressing and reducing the gender gap in the mobile industry. In MWC words:

“We work in a highly dynamic, ever-changing industry but unfortunately there’s one thing that is not keeping pace with change. Men outnumber women in the telecommunications sector, especially in the most senior level positions.”

Claudia Zimmer – our CEO

Why does this interest us? Our CEO is a woman and this is unusual in tech. Claudia Zimmer initially trained in maths, then architecture. Accordingly she spent a decade in London working as an architect. Today she’s running a software company Aquafadas with Matthieu Kopp. Managing an overwhelmingly male crowd of developers, on a daily basis she is witnessing the gender gap. Based on Aquafadas data from 2016, in the last 12 months amongst all tech candidates looking to work with us there were only 13% women applying.

Disadvantaged at early years

Male domination is often considered as having its source at the early stages of education (although some argue that other factors such as life choices made by women matter more but this is a topic for another blog article).

  • Only 18% of computer science graduates are women
  • While 74% of girls in middle school are interested in STEM subjects, just 0.4% of high school girls actually choose computer science (Source: Girls Who Code)
  • Despite similar performances in their science test, more boys (1 in 5) consider a STEM career than girls (1 in 20), accordingly to OECD

Janis Ganga a female developer from Aquafadas recalls:

“I studied both design and development and the number of women in my class wasn’t too low. But still our teachers were more likely to encourage women to pursue design and men to pursue development, regardless of their skills. When you talk to developers, CEOs and others working in tech, most of them would love to see the gender gap decrease in their companies. Perhaps there are steps to be taken in schools and universities, to motivate girls to choose a tech degree and this way increase the number of female graduates.”

In 2015 Microsoft reported that women comprise 29.1% of its workforce, but only 16.6% work in tech positions and just 23% hold leadership roles. At Twitter the situation is even worse:  women fill 10% of its technical jobs, with 21% in leadership. And what about Google? They have 17% of them in tech jobs and only 21% manage others.

{Source: CNET}

On of the key stats directly from the largest online community of programmers Stack Overflow indicate that 44.5% developers taking part in their annual survey admitted to never had a female colleague in their teams.

Women in digital – hot topic, what about results?

Only a quick browse online proves how important this topic has become. High profile role models in tech are often mentioned in press: like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer.

Various initiatives are popping up daily, to only mention a few:

  • Melinda Gates, who has a degree in computer science, has launched a new initiative dedicated to getting more women in tech-related fields and keeping them in STEM fields. {Source: IBtimes}.
  • Multiple US companies decided to make their diversity reports public.
  • In the UK there are multiple grass root and brand-led programmes encouraging female developers, amongst them  Code First Girls, Computer Club for Girls (CC4G) and more.
  • A new interesting movement has been launched in France: Jamais Sans Elles run by key figures from media, politics, enterprise, education etc. emphasising importance of equal representation of gender.

{Source: TechCrunch}

But is it getting easier for women?

Deloitte suggests that the situation hasn’t improved in the last few years, from the moment the topic of gender diversity has been launched. They predict by the end of 2016 fewer than 25%  of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women, which is about the same as 2015, and may even be down.

{Source: Deloitte}

DWEN – inspiring speakers, creating a network

Close to our headquarters, we’ve just participated in the female entrepreneurs in digital gathering organised by Dell – DWEN. An initiative started 6 years ago designed to link digital women together, enabling networking, resource sharing and bringing opportunities.

Various successful women in the industry shared opinions and ideas (amongst them:  Anne Ravanona from Global Invest Her, Stéphanie Gottlib from Agyleo Sport, Katia Vidic from Nelis, Rachel Delacour from Zendesk, Sarah Saint Michel etc.).

How to succeed in their views?

  • It is all about merits not gender but women have to learn how to ‘shout’ about their achievements
  • To begin with it’s crucial to remember about: power of networking, self-confidence and the right mindset
  • Women should never doubt themselves: “You always have a story to tell”
  • “Think big” , Ask for more money”,  “Be yourself”!
  • It’s necessary to have a quota at any business to create a discipline and obligation to employ more women
  • It’s all about mentoring and taking under wings junior women at the start of their careers