There was a time, not long ago, that women in the office were expected to be quiet, obedient, and invisible until we were needed. The glass ceiling was not an anecdotal benchmark, as it often feels today, or a point of reference for women to measure their success by.
It was a very real limitation, which governed not only how far we could advance in our careers, but also the behaviour that was expected of us, and our ability to contribute to and feel power over our own success. It has taken decades to get as far as we have come, and we still have much to accomplish, but the role that we women play in our professional lives has made substantial headway.
The glass ceiling is still there, but we push it higher every year. While we still have a lot of work to do, it’s important that we reflect every so often, and maybe, occasionally, indulge in our pride. According to the International Labor Organization, women make up 50.3 per cent of the global workforce. That is an amazing accomplishment. But I can’t help wondering why the industry I work in lags so far behind the rest of the world.
While we make up just over half of the global workforce, women comprise only 25 per cent of computing jobs in the US, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. That number drops substantially when we look at women in leadership positions, with only 11 per cent of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies being held by women, and only 5 per cent of tech startups being owned by women.
I am beyond proud of my team, which beats the national average with 30 per cent of our staff made up of women, and the majority of them working in technical roles. We have a female product manager behind the collaboration tools used in HELLO, while our lead software engineer in charge of implementing audio and video calls is a woman as well. Both started as interns and are the best role models I know to all the young women who aspire to a career in this industry. They are true rock stars. My team proves to me on a daily basis that women bring different perspectives to problem solving, and extremely effective approaches to communication and collaboration within our team. The returns we see when we bring more women into our company are immediate and significant, and they have a ripple effect throughout our organisation, making our work more efficient, higher quality, and more fun.
We have come a long way. Every decade that passes sees a greater number of women in the workforce, reductions in the wage gap, and more women in leadership positions. We cannot rest on our laurels now. We must keep pushing to get our voices heard. We cannot be afraid to be louder when we have good ideas, or to take leadership on our own terms to create the world we want to see.
Our voices are getting through, now is not the time to quiet down. Now is the time to demand more women in tech jobs and leadership positions, and to push young women toward studies in STEM fields. We just need the opportunities and more trust from the predominantly male executive teams of the world.
These two fundamental components are more than enough to drive more women to joining the industry. If given the opportunity, women could create enormous progress by bringing a greater level of empathy and communication to teamwork, and a stronger understanding of the needs and wants of women consumers, which make up half of the world and often hold decision-making roles in their businesses and families.
We have the potential to build a bigger, better tech industry. One which is more inclusive and diverse, prepared to deliver the products and services that our customers truly want and need. To make this happen, we must make ourselves heard.
I will end this with one of my favorite quotes by Sheryl Sandberg, “We need women at all levels, including top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored”. We are getting louder.
Mimoza Bytyqi, co-founder and CTO of Solaborate
Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens