Employers Not Doing Enough To Nurture Female Talent In Tech

Monday, June 14, 2021

Study shows only one in four female tech professionals felt uncomfortable to ask their employer for a salary increase—showing there’s still a long way to go on the road to gender equality in the workplace.

The latest annual report from specialist tech staffing firm Nigel Frank International has found that many women in the tech industry are still uncomfortable asking for a raise, and are less likely to receive an increase following their negotiation. The survey asked IT professionals from around the world their opinions on the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, including their current and desired salaries and benefits.

These results, along with the reasons behind them further highlight that the tech industry is still far from closing its well-known gender gap, prompting employers worldwide to review their policies to ensure they are free of gender bias and create and strengthen inclusive work environments.

Underrepresentation in Tech

Over 2,000 tech professionals were surveyed by Nigel Frank International, of which 18% identified as female. This is in line with the UK average percentage in the tech workforce, which stands at 19%.

Asked how comfortable they would be asking their employer for a pay increase, only 25% of female respondents said they’d feel comfortable doing so, whilst 31% said they would feel uncomfortable. Amongst the main reasons cited by female respondents as to why they would feel uncomfortable negotiating for a raise was lack of knowledge of how to do it, and feeling that their employer should value them enough to offer one. Others said they simply didn’t feel at ease asking for a raise at their workplace, for one or more unspecified reasons.

The study also asked whether the respondents’ employers paid women and men equally, and whilst 60% of men believed their employer did offer equal pay for equal work, only 36% of their female counterparts agreed. A further 17% of female respondents think that their female colleagues, in particular, aren’t being paid the same as their male colleagues, and 22% of female respondents said they believed that men in their workplace are paid more than women despite being of equal skill and experience.

Burnout and feeling undervalued

Underrepresentation and a gender pay gap in the tech space could be behind the sector’s high quit rates for female professionals. A recent study by Accenture and Girls Who Code found that 50% of women abandon technology careers by the age of 35, and that women are leaving tech roles at a 45% higher rate than men.

And, as the long-term impact of the pandemic continues to play out, the number of women in tech is expected to drop further. The New York Times found that out of the 1.2 million American parents who have had to leave the workforce in the past year, 900,000 were women—making women three times as likely as men to have left their jobs.

Employers, organizations, and the tech industry at large stand to lose out on critical resource if the necessary steps to nurture female talent aren’t taken. Data suggests that one way to retain female talent is to ensure that benefits and initiatives being offered to employees are inclusive of everyone’s needs. With 57% of women feeling more burned out at work due to the pandemic, benefits such as homeworking, flexitime, and additional vacation time can help women, who are far more likely to be juggling care responsibilities, remain in the workforce.

When asked which benefits would make them accept a job offer, 41% of female respondents in the Nigel Frank International study said homeworking, 23% mentioned flexitime, and 35% cited more paid time off. These percentages are significantly higher than those given by male respondents, which stood at 30%, 16% and 29% respectively.

Better support from managers and distinct development plans can also help stem the so-called leaky pipeline to female career progression—researchers have found that women tend to receive more vague feedback and personality criticism during their performance evaluations, with 66% of women reporting that there is no clear path forward for them in their career at their current companies.

The way forward

Zoë Morris, President at Nigel Frank International says the results show that there’s still a lot employers can do to nurture female talent, and develop tomorrow’s female leaders.

“The entire tech ecosystem stands to lose if leaders don’t roll up their sleeves and work towards creating a truly diverse industry,” said Morris. “As we enter the future of work, we need to guarantee nobody is being left behind. Attracting and empowering female talent is key if we want to move forward.”

“Developing a comprehensive approach to policy-making in which everyone’s voices are heard is key if companies want to develop a truly diverse and inclusive workplace, in which everyone feels valued and empowered, irrespective of their gender. Attracting and cultivating female talent is the way forward if we want to not only eliminate harmful gender bias in tech but also close the ever-growing  skills gap in the IT industry that threatens to hamper digital transformation for everyone.”