A new study from Booking.com is looking at the role gender bias plays in the technology sector outside of mainstream engineering and IT paths.
The data shows that even though women find working in tech very appealing, gender bias continues to be a major factor, regardless of the path through the sector.
When surveyed, women said working in the tech industry is ideal for a number of reasons. Just over 80 per cent of women like the tech world because it allows freedom to innovate, while other factors like a fast-paced working environment and flexible hours come in at 70 per cent and 78 per cent as to why women respectively enjoy working in tech.
Despite the enjoyment of work in tech, 42 per cent of women in non-tech roles think that gender bias is actually worse than what they expected. As women climb the corporate ladder, that percentage grows, with 52 per cent of women in senior management and 57 per cent of women in executive roles stating they experience gender bias in the workplace.
Just about half of those surveyed (48 per cent) feel that as a woman in a non-tech role they are less respected than a man would be in their position.
“While we know there are too few women in developer and engineering roles specifically, we also know that there is a significant gender gap in non-technology roles as well, which I believe has to do with myth and perception that there aren’t opportunities for women in tech who don’t have a coding or engineering background,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com.
Tans has spoken out numerous amounts of times highlighting the gender imbalance in tech. Tans spearheaded the Technology Playmaker awards to recognize women in technology.
“Technology companies need women in those roles, but they also need more women across other critical functions like marketing and finance. More women in non-technical roles can help drive and engage women in technical roles too–diversity extends beyond functional silos,” added Tans.
The lack of women in bigger roles also creates a catch-22, as 90 per cent of women found that the lack of role models in the industry can be a barrier. The same percentage of women in non-tech roles indicated that seeing another woman in a leadership role would inspire them to advance their career as well.
Only 20 per cent of respondents said that their company has a mentorship program in place to inspire leadership, but 34 per cent of women would take advantage of it if their company had one.
Gender bias can also affect confidence in the workplace. One in three women said they don’t feel comfortable asking for a raise, while a quarter say they don’t feel like they should speak in business meetings. Perhaps the most telling is that 36 per cent of women surveyed said they do not feel as if their opinion is valid.
The main takeaway from the study is found in the last questions. Many companies are trying to address gender imbalance, as studies from groups like #movethedial and Deloitte point out that bias is real, but improving slowly. Almost every respondent in the Booking.com survey (92 per cent) agreed that knowing their employer values women and men equally would inspire them to advance their career, but only 46 per cent think that gender diversity is a priority for their company.
If companies move towards recognizing and alleviating concerns, it will create more leaders, which will inspre more women to enter the industry.