Why Women In Tech Matter
By Karda Rolland-Berge
March 5, 2019
As a female-led company specializing in tech, women in tech is a cause close to our hearts. So those hearts were warmed when we got a first look at the agenda for March’s BC Tech Summit. First, there’s the speaker list, which includes 34 female panellists, moderators and keynote speakers.
And then there’s the three and a half hours of pre-summit programming dedicated to the meaningful discussion of women in tech. According to the program, “delegates will walk away with the knowledge and tools they need to implement into their businesses in order to excel and better champion a diverse and inclusive workforce and network.”
It seems like it should be simple. Need more women in tech? Hire more women in tech. But as numerous thinkpieces about the topic have shown, it’s more complicated than that.
Mashable’s Monica Chin pointed out earlier this month that many such thinkpieces feature problematic arguments, including the assertion that hiring women lowers the hiring standards (it doesn’t, research has shown) and that recruiting women “doesn’t fix the real problem.”
What is the “real problem”, then?
A shortage of women studying software engineering in university? Sexism in the hiring process? A lack of women in leadership positions? Tech cultures that alienate and drive out the women actually hired?
Well, yes. Yes, yes, yes and yes. This isn’t a problem that can be addressed with one solution. If it was, we probably would have solved it by now.
As Chin writes, “Perhaps we should recognize that gender discrepancies in the tech industry, as is the case with many social issues, is a problem with many facets and layers, and all of them are important.”
This is a fight that must be fought on multiple fronts, in tech companies, at elementary and secondary schools and post-secondary institutions, at the legislature and on Parliament Hill. It will take many different perspectives, a diversity of voices, and a multi-pronged approach. Fortunately, there are a number of players in BC working on it, from a variety of angles: BC Tech, of course, as well as Innovate BC and the Canadian Digital Technology Supercluster.
After all, it’s a fight worth fighting, for women and for business in general. The payoff for companies is big.
As The Washington Post has reported, hiring more women makes companies grow more and perform better. Innovation-focused companies are $44 million more valuable on average when women hold their positions of power. Other research shows that female tech entrepreneurs generate 35% higher returns than male counterparts. An investment in both hiring and retaining more women actually leads to growth and greater returns for companies.
That’s why we’re so heartened to see more women at the table, and at the dais, this March. Because what’s good for women in tech is good for tech, in BC and across Canada.