What is ‘the broken rung of the corporate ladder’ facing Women in tech and how do we fix it?

The tech sector sadly lags behind the rest of the job market when it comes to hiring women.

In most technology companies — and especially in leadership meetings at those companies — women are sparsely represented and women of colour are even more rare. This is true in all industries, especially as you climb the ladder. McKinsey states that only 28% of people in senior management roles are women and a mere 19% of the C-suite is female. It only gets much worse in IT, where only 26% of computer-science related jobs are held by women, compared to the overall job market, which is about half female. 

In addition, the BuiltIn website states that the five largest tech companies in the world (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) only have a workforce of about 34.4% women.

Here are some more sobering statistics: 

  • 48% of women in STEM jobs report discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process.

  • Black and Hispanic women, who majored in computer science or engineering, are less likely to be hired into a tech role than their white counterparts.

  • 39% of women view gender bias as a primary reason for not being offered a promotion.

  • 66% of women report that there is no clear path forward for them in their careers at their current companies.

Gender diversity breeds higher quality products, companies and sectors. Different backgrounds, experiences and ideas ultimately help make any business or industry stronger. These are facts. So how do we move this forward?

There is hope as we see that women are increasingly turning to STEM industries. Something mirrored by forward thinking organisations, who are looking to increase the representation of women — many through a gender parity-focus in new hires and in executive roles.

We need to fix the ‘broken rung’ in the corporate ladder that Mckinsey has identified. The ‘rung’ that is broken is: 

Equitable advancement in early promotion.

  • Across all industries and roles, women are promoted at a slower rate than men. The promotion gap is much wider in the tech sector: with only 52 women being promoted to manager for every 100 men at the same level, compared to the average of 86 for every 100 men across all industries.

A report from McKinsey and Girls in Tech specifically looked at the barriers preventing women in technical roles from earning early promotions. This was carried out through 40 interviews with early-tenure individuals in technical roles plus the leaders and supervisors who oversee promotions.

The research found that in order to help women in technical roles secure a track towards important early-career promotions, a systematic approach with three key themes helps to fix the ‘broken rung’. They are:

  1. Providing equitable access to skill building

  2. Implementing a structured process that seeks to de-bias promotions

  3. Building a strong culture of support for women via mentors and sponsors

If you are thinking “how do I increase your profits by up to 36% and continue to retain female talent?”

Then something needs to change, otherwise, companies will get left behind. No one is encouraged or motivated to work for a company that has a  pale male and stale C suite! 

Here at Netwomen, we provide solutions to all 3 of these for companies wishing to help close the equity gap, but especially 1 and 2.

We provide 3 monthly events, coaching, mentors, connections, inclusive training and more to provide a strong culture of support for working women. We are helping women progress in their careers and keeping them there. Also, our programs welcome male allies because we need men involved in changing the culture and improving diversity and inclusion. 

Visit our website to see how you can sign yourself or your company up with a corporate membership and together we can make headway with repairing the broken rung and gender/ethnicity gap prevalent in the tech sector.