Skillsoft, a corporate digital learning, has released new research exploring the current state of women in tech including the challenges and barriers to inclusion they face and how employers can better support them. Findings from Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech Report reveal that while female employees have gained hard-fought ground in the workplace, a large gap still exists when it comes to opportunities for professional development and career advancement.
According to the report, there is a misalignment between the workplace benefits women in tech are seeking and what is currently being provided. For example, while 86 per cent of respondents cited opportunities for professional development and training as extremely or very important to them, just 42 percent said their employers currently offer this as a benefit. Additionally, when asked about the top challenges they have faced while pursuing a tech-related career, nearly a third of women surveyed (32 per cent) pointed to a lack of training.
The research indicates that women in tech want to learn, and when asked which tech-related areas they are most interested in, business analysis, cybersecurity, analytics, AI, and machine learning, and leadership and management topped their lists. With Skillsoft’s recent IT Skills and Salary Report finding that 76 per cent of organisations currently face skills gaps in their IT departments, providing opportunities for training and professional development is a major benefit for employers and employees alike as it can help fill crucial shortages and skills gaps and put women on a path for career advancement.
“Organisations around the globe are looking for ways to address their skills gaps, and in many cases, the answer lies within via their existing workforce,” said Potoula Chresomales, SVP, Product Management, Skillsoft. “Women make up less than 40 per cent of the global workforce, and for that number to increase, female employees must be empowered with continuous training, professional development, and career advancement, as well as equal pay. The time is now for organisations to tackle gender disparity head-on. By doing so, we can build more inclusive, equitable, and competitive businesses,” added Potoula.
Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech Report highlights a few ways organisations can better empower female employees, including:
· Provide and encourage opportunities for certification:
o When asked how certifications have helped advance their careers, respondents reported gaining more responsibility (52 per cent), earning higher salaries (34 per cent), and receiving promotions (32 per cent), among other benefits.
o Despite business analysis and cybersecurity being identified as leading areas of interest, just 22 per cent and 18 per cent of respondents, respectively, hold corresponding certifications. 19 per cent report holding no certifications at all.
· Make a concentrated effort to reduce gender bias in STEM:
o 70 per cent of women surveyed reported that men outnumber them in the workplace at ratios of two-to-one or greater.
o Additionally, Skillsoft found that compared to men, women in tech must work longer to climb the corporate ladder. The highest percentage of men in leadership roles have 15-20 years of experience versus 26 or more years for women.
o To encourage more women to pursue tech-related careers, respondents said organisations should provide opportunities for professional development and training (55 per cent), childcare (47 per cent), career coaching, mentoring, and counseling (43 per cent), and an equitable work culture (41 per cent).
· Alleviate the unique on-the-job challenges women face:
o While overall job satisfaction for women in tech is strong – 91 per cent of respondents report being extremely or somewhat satisfied in their roles – they face numerous obstacles. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents list their biggest challenge as a lack of equity in pay. This is followed by balancing work and life (36 per cent) and a lack of equity in opportunities (33 per cent).
· Ensure training is timely and topical:
o When selecting a training provider, women in tech seek scheduling capabilities (34 per cent), relevant course availability (32 per cent) and opportunities for hands-on practice (32 per cent).