From STEM to C-Suite, Steps to Improve Technology’s Gender Balance

Opinion

Gender and diversity problems certainly aren’t new for either the technology community or for business in general. Over the past several decades, women and minorities have worked to gain access to higher levels within organizations, and many white males already in senior roles have also worked to address these issues. However, progress has been slow, and that pace doesn’t appear likely to change in the short term.

In tech, the issue is especially complex because too many girls drop out of STEM, and therefore, too few young women are prepared to become programmers or even software product managers. I see two very important actions the leaders of tech companies can take. First, like Matt Williamson, CEO of Durham, NC, company Windsor Circle, you recognize the totally young, white male organization is not what you think is right, and you take action. Matt reached out to his hiring managers to make the company’s values clear, which has led to the hiring of more diverse candidates. He also reached out to senior women in the broader tech community to seek help in addressing the gender imbalance and is supporting a community-wide initiative to surface the issues. Second, successful participants in the tech community—especially women and minorities—need to come together to provide role models for girls and coaching/advising for young women and minority members to make sure there is a better future supply of female candidates.

[Editor’s note: To tap the wisdom of our distinguished group of Xconomists, we asked a few of them to answer this question heading into 2015: “How should the innovation community solve its gender and diversity problems?” You can see more questions and answers here. ]

Jan Davis is retired CEO and active board member for companies in drowning prevention, software, analytics, database and digital marketing and information. Follow @SnowSun

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  • Brendan

    Another step: support organizations like Science Club for Girls.