As we enter the digital age, multiple industries are likely to be disrupted, and those without relevant skills for the future workplace are likely at risk. The bad news is that women are likely to be disproportionately negatively impacted because of their under-representation in jobs which are likely to see the most growth in the next 5 years, notably those in the technology profession. Less than 30% of positions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles are held by women globally, and half of the women who enter STEM fields leave by the 10-year point in their careers. Part of the responsibility falls on employers to consider how these challenges can be overcome.
How can employers better support the development of women in digital, and what can be done to encourage more women of all ages and experience levels to pursue a career in digital?
The Future of Digital
There is no quick fix for the gender gap in digital. While there has been progress in some sectors where women are increasingly choosing digital careers, particularly in marketing, communications, and client-facing roles, we are only scratching the surface of what needs to be done for a truly gender-balanced industry.
Support is needed to encourage women to explore options in more technical roles such as PPC, programmatic, and automation. There is also a real need for in-role training and development to encourage women to move into more senior roles. The question is, how do you as an employer, and as part of the industry as a whole, champion this shift to bridging the gender gap?
Mentoring and Coaching
Mentoring is a fantastic way for experienced senior leaders to share their knowledge, but it also affords those in junior positions the opportunity to explore their potential and seek guidance for career progression. It is important to note that mentoring doesn’t have to have an overly formal arrangement. It can simply be having someone available to sense check career decisions and provide a sounding board for ideas – more of an ‘on-the-job guide’.
If your business doesn’t have a mentoring program in place, it would be beneficial to look into your options. It might be as simple as appointing someone in the company who an employee can speak to for advice on an internal or sensitive issue.
Alternatively, there are a number of organizations dedicated to supporting women in business. Many of these companies provide a platform for women to reach out to senior leaders from across the world for guidance in their careers.
Role Models in Digital
We are seeing an increasing number of women in senior roles at some of the world’s largest companies. Examples of such women include Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and Hooi Ling Tan, co-founder of GRAB who are both highly regarded leaders in the digital space. This is not only a positive sign that more women are in fact leading the way in the digital sector, but it also serves as an inspiration to women hoping to build their career in the digital sector.
It is important for female employees to have women leaders in the organisation they look up to, and whom they can aspire to emulate. Therefore, ensure that your leadership team is inclusive and comprises of a diverse mix of people who are demonstrating positive, encouraging behaviour to those who report to them.
Our career aspirations start early in our lives, which is why it is important to make the opportunities within digital clear from the beginning. STEM, an interdisciplinary approach towards educating students in four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics, integrates them into a cohesive learning model based on real-world applications and could serve as a fundamental skill for a basic education and a job. A path in STEM could pave the way to wide spectrum of degree fields including Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics Technology and more. According to a study by Mastercard in 2017, parents are the biggest influence for 68% of girls who decide to pursue STEM.
In the workplace, digital leaders should look at upskilling more junior employees on digital practices, such as digital strategy, budgeting, PPC, and programmatic buying.
Companies that offer local school or college students the opportunity to work as part of an internship or work experience program will help shape the perceptions of young women considering an unbeaten career path. Such programmes allow those who are still unsure about what career they’d like to pursue gain first-hand insight into the industry and may be instrumental in increasing awareness of opportunities in the digital space.
There is no better time to celebrate diversity and the incredible potential of women and girls to make an exponential impact in the world. Through initiatives that provide support and opportunities in computer science and technology, there is a tremendous opportunity for women to play a central role in driving innovation and progress.
If you would like to discuss how we can help with your digital recruitment, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants for a conversation today.