International Women’s Day: The Women of FluidOne
8 · MAR ·2017
Wednesday 8th March 2017 is International Women’s Day and to commemorate we asked the women of FluidOne some of the big questions surrounding working in the technology industry.
You can find an infographic featuring some of the key stats here.
When it comes to the technology industry, change rules supreme. In just 12 months we’ve seen Amazon deliver a package by drone, SanDisk release a 1TB SD card and SpaceX land a rocket (vertically!) in the ocean. But in an industry that is leading and innovating through rapid and extraordinary change, there are still larger paradigms that are yet to make the required shift.
The number of women working in technology, for example, is still alarming low. Apple has 20% of women employees in technology; Google has 17% of women in its workforce, while Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have 16.6%, 15% and 10% respectively. For comparison, 25% of FluidOne’s workforce is made up of females. But why is this? And what stops or attracts women to working in technology? Does it even matter?
“A higher level of women in the business was not what attracted me to FluidOne as this wasn’t obvious to me when I came in for interviews. What really attracted me initially to FluidOne was the reputation of the company being a disruptor in the market.” says Audra Simons, Head of Innovation at FluidOne: “As I delved deeper into my research I uncovered a company that is not only disruptive but truly dedicated to what they do, winning awards for innovation, customer services and best small firm to work for, along with visionary leadership and a focus on charity.”
A recent PWC study shows that 27% of females they surveyed say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males, and only 3% say it is their first choice. This data aligns with a survey we ran internally which states that 70% of the women working for FluidOne arrived in technology through a career change and not as their first job out of education. As a comparison, 70% of the male workforce of FluidOne first decided to work in technology during some form of education.
The lack of visible and, perhaps more indicatively, well communicated success of women in the technology industry may be putting off the younger generation With just 5% of women in leadership positions in technology and with just 22% of students being able to name a famous female working in technology, a perceived lack of female role models may be reinforcing that technology is not for them.
These figures may seem negative but the reality of it actually is quite different as the women that do work in tech are generally looking to stay there, with 75% of FluidOne’s women saying that they will be staying in the industry for 5 years or longer.
“Technology is addictive and ever changing. Male or female once you get the addiction, it is hard to go and work in any other industry.” continues Audra: “I have tried but the craving for the stimulation of creating new innovative technology solutions and taking them to market was too much to stay away from. With technology, we are reshaping our world and how we interact with it and it’s incredible to be part of driving the transformation.”
Audra’s sentiment is telling as it looks as though the paradigm is shifting towards a more diverse working environment; with both the men and women we surveyed internally agreeing that in the next 15 years’ women would be equally represented in the technology industry.
“If schools are focusing on gender-specific skills to teach men and women they will naturally evolve into roles that demonstrate that (i.e. women are encouraged to work in empathetic roles focusing on people, the creative areas, arts whilst men are encouraged to be leaders, use their analytical skills aka engineers, developers, CEO’s)” says Nicole Keegan, People Operations Manager at FluidOne: “The improvement will come in 15 years because our generation has finally acknowledged this is a problem and is ensuring this isn’t the case for future generations!”
In an ideal world all jobs in technology would be judged on merit alone, however, in an industry that has traditionally been populated with males, this has not always been the case. It does appear that the tides are changing with some positive stats showing that 41% of Computer Science sophomores at Harvard were women. This is an increase of 34% since 2011.
There is a clear ROI for businesses too as companies are 15% more likely to perform better if they are gender diverse and 85% of corporate diversity and talent leaders agreed that “A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation”.
“Diversity of all levels is valuable for the dynamics of a workplace.” adds Nicole: “Different opinions and values are brought to a workforce by employing those with both a keen drive to build a career and form a part of their workplace, whatever gender. Within technology there is still a clear employee number gap between genders, however, where gender equality is exercised at an increased rate, the benefits are far more visible.”