Closing the gender gap in technology

You may wonder why I’m writing on this subject as a man. While I can never fully understand these issues from a woman’s perspective, I have made it imperative to bring my own awareness to this subject. I do believe that gender equality is not simply a topic for women. Men can actively help to close the gender gap. Unity and a grasp of intersectionality can guide us to reach our common goals and create a more equal society for our children.

Research has shown that the level of employee engagement and achievement in companies with gender-balanced teams is so much higher than those without this balance. Yet, it still amazes me that women number only around 15% of all IT professionals. The industry needs to close this gender gap as a matter of urgency.

Gartner predicts that through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets. Also, gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperform gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by approximately 50%. It is without question that women create enormous value for the digital sector.

Watch the video: Women Creating Value for the Digital Sector and for the World with Brandi Presti, Strategic Global Business Partner, Americas, Orange Business Services

One of the main issues is that only a small number of women are choosing STEM-related fields in higher education. Shockingly only 3% of students enrolling in information and communication technology (ICT) courses around the world are women. Deep-seated gender stereotypes and gender bias are discouraging girls and women from pursuing careers in STEM.

In new technologies, the involvement of women hardly features. For example, only 5% of artificial intelligence roles (AI) are held by women, against 95% by men. This trend is a concern because 85% of the jobs we will see in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, but are likely to be in emerging technologies like AI. Based on this fact alone, where does this put women in future technology roles? Orange views this as a major challenge that we must address now to bring about gender-balance for the future of the technology industry. To better anticipate gender diversity in innovation, we are increasing female representation within specialist roles, such as AI and data, cybersecurity and cloud.

What is limiting women in technology?

Over a third of women currently working in the IT sector say that a lack of peers and role models made them very cautious about entering the industry. Technology companies need to actively promote career paths for women to get over this hurdle.

Watch the video: Women Creating Value for the Digital Sector and for the World with Glenda Brady, Head of Sales, Pre-Sales & Marketing, Orange Business Services

There is also an issue with the talent pipeline leaking. Today, according to UNESCO, less than 30% of researchers are women. Even more of a concern is that women leave the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector at a much higher rate than men. After 12 years, around 50% of women leave STEM jobs compared to 20% of men.

This means that an opportunity to tap into women’s experiences and innovation capabilities is lost – often for good.

A positive narrative

Providing young women with positive role models is one step in the right direction towards getting them excited about a career in technology.

To address this issue, Orange is supporting new initiatives and partnerships. For example, our Hello Women program is designed to increase the representation of women in technical and digital jobs. Through the program, we are also looking to raise awareness of technology job roles among young women and students, demystify some of the stereotypes that exist around jobs in the technology industry and provide appropriate training to attract and retain women in these sectors.

Watch the video: Women Creating Value for the Digital Sector and for the World with Ruba Mousa, Senior Engagement Manager, Egypt, MEA Orange Business Services

We firmly believe that gender equality at all levels is a very powerful performance enabler. As a result, we are also actively engaging in mentorships across the globe to provide more roles for women. As a matter of priority, we have built this into our Engage 2025 strategy and set targets designed to lead to a significant increase in women in management and STEM functions on a yearly basis.

Watch the video: Women Creating Value for the Digital Sector and for the World with Janelle Koh, Customer Business Unit Director, APAC, Orange Business Services

Investing in a future talent pool

Technological innovation is accelerating fast. Technology is taking up more and more of our daily lives. It is imperative that the technology industry is a place where women can work and succeed if the digital economy is to maintain its momentum and tackle the talent shortage.

Let us indeed choose to challenge gender diversity. On March 8th, we are celebrating International Women’s Day, and Orange is committed to bridging the gap of gender diversity by highlighting women’s voices every day.

Kristof Symons
Kristof Symons

Kristof Symons is an Executive Board Member at Orange Business Services and leads the International Business Division. He previously held positions in Professional and Integration Services, Large Outsourcing and Multisourcing Customers and Transformation programs. In his private life, Kristof enjoys reading about future innovation and human psychology. He also practices martial arts and leads a martial arts club in Belgium.