I’ve noticed in recent years that more people are beginning to focus on women in technology. Over my career, I’ve observed a slow but steady increase in the number of colleagues who are women — especially at 1904labs, where we have 17 women across various departments with seven female leaders.
Still, biases in the technology world can make it hard for women to ascend within organizations. This probably isn’t news. What’s less often discussed is why companies should care about recruiting, advancing and retaining women in the technical field. There are at least three key reasons.
One is profit. Data from the corporate world suggest that more women in leadership roles can lead to increased revenue. A 2016 survey of 22,000 international firms published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found not only that women's performances were on par with their male colleagues, but also that firms which had a 30% share of women in leadership roles were 15% more profitable than firms which had no female leadership.
Viewpoint diversity is also crucial to the success of organizations. We all have a diverse set of skills we bring to a given situation that can add value to a solution, and diversity plays a big role in finding solutions that are unexpected and rich.
Perhaps the most important reason why gender equality is so important in tech is that it gives young girls tangible role models. If we can continue to remove the obstacles for women in tech, there will be more female tech legends like Grace Hopper, Annie Easley, and Ada Lovelace that girls can look up to and say “I want to be like her.”
How does the industry get there? A step in the right direction is for organizations to open up the channels of communication so everyone feels free to discuss these complicated issues. At 1904labs, one concept that helps this process is Kim Scott’s idea of Radical Candor — the idea that teams should work to express themselves and challenge each other directly, while simultaneously showing that you care personally. This kind of empathetic frankness is baked into the culture at 1904labs. It is something that has helped us start conversations about where we are at, and where we’re heading as a company in terms of gender equity.