There’s plenty of data that shows the positive effects that result from the growing presence of women in the business world.
There’s a couple reasons why women have proven to be a positive boost for business:
They’re half the population, which is a tremendous floodgate of talent.
Women tend to have a different take on things, which has proven valuable. For example, women are generally more sociable and tend to excel in a group dynamic that enables them to flourish, which helps others in the group.
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, according to research by McKinsey & Co.
Making the case for more women in technology
I worry, though, that similar progress in gender diversity isn’t being made in technology, a male-dominated sector. Here’s a couple reasons why I’m worried.
Women are receiving fewer STEM degrees. Over the past decade, number of women securing STEM bachelor degrees has been declining. The biggest decline was in computer science. In 2004, women received 23 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded. In 2014 that fell to 18 percent.
Dealing with the presence of unconscious bias. Some people have an implicit bias that girls and women are not as good as boys and men in math and science.
It’s more than identity politics. A 2015 lawsuit exposed Silicon Valley’s “brogrammer” culture and how challenging that environment can be for women, which is bad for business. Why is it bad? Women are the lead adopters of technology, according to Intel researcher Genevieve Bell. Dow Jones found that successful startups have more women in senior positions than unsuccessful ones.
As more women lead businesses, the boys’ club will need to adapt. More women are starting companies, and they’re doing well. This may lead women business leaders to wonder why most of their tech divisions are dominated by men. Women can help build a more collaborative environment, which will help the old boys’ network to adapt.
On the bright side, educators see the importance of emphasizing STEM for girls. Sierra College has been holding its annual Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) event to encourage high school girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).
Employers are facing an ultra-connected, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and global business world. That world needs all the talent, perspective, and insight that women offer. Encouraging girls and women to be themselves within the STEM and STEAM space is the smart thing to do.
Today’s guest contributor is Nicole McMackin, president of Irvine Technology Corporation, a firm specializing in information technology solutions and staffing. Nicole grew up in Southern California and is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She sits on numerous boards, including the CHOC Children’s Families in Need, Orange County Board of Education Executive Committee, Tilly’s Life Center Board, University of California at Irvine Chancellor’s CEO Roundtable, and Young President’s Organization. She is an Honoree at the YWCA.
I’m often interviewed and asked about successful women in the workplace and my views on being one of the few to break the glass ceiling in the technology sector.
My response has always been that I never saw a glass ceiling, so I didn’t give myself an excuse not to break through it.
What research reveals
However, various articles and statistics about women in leadership roles in the United States do prove that there is a disparity of women leaders in the workplace. Currently, the Fortune 500 is led by 32 female CEOs, a record high.
In a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center, 34 percent of respondents surveyed believe that male executives are better than women executives at assuming risk. Moreover, when asked about specific industries women could support, a significant portion felt that men would do a better job leading technology, finance, and oil and gas companies, whereas women would be strongest at running retail and food companies.
Although that survey is full of traditional stereotyping of women, you still need to ask yourself: “Why aren’t more women promoted into the CEO position, but rather held back?”
Historically, it seems that women do not have the consistent high-ranking executive sponsorship who campaign for their advancement. Why is this?
As a sex, women represent more than half the population, a group that’s more than ready to prove themselves in senior levels in the workplace and to have the opportunity to earn equal pay for the same job.
Although women can keep up with the rigorous pace and workload at the office, maybe they can’t keep up with the social politics of the perceived “Good Old Boys Club.”
Because of the lack of women in leadership roles combined with the desire for career progression, women’s perceived need of survival overtakes their personality or natural disposition to be a leader.
Typically, in these scenarios, women play down their strengths in an attempt to over-compensate for not being equal or the same to men. Throughout my career, I’ve heard more commentary about a woman’s disposition in a meeting or board room than I ever heard about a man’s.
Women are left in a quandary, discussed, judged, and evaluated every time they open their mouths. They’re are considered harsh and manlike if they speak up to their peers or a weak follower if they don’t.
Recent studies show that a diversified executive team will produce up to 34 percent more revenue to a corporation than an executive team filled with the same sex.
Corporations and stockholders are beginning to recognize the need for more sex and gender balance within companies, which is leading them to adapt policies that deviate from the perceived “Good Old Boys” norms and create an environment that’s friendlier to all minorities.
A call to action
With the backing of corporate stockholders, women now have an opportunity to take accountability and remain true to themselves while engaging with their male peers.
Women will only succeed if they demonstrate the will and power to not act like a man, but to leverage their natural gifts of honesty, teamwork, compassion, and persuasion.
About today’s guest contributor
Nicole McMackin is president of Irvine Technology Corporation, a firm that specializes in information technology solutions and staffing. She has an established career in sales and management, emphasizing account ownership within Fortune 300 organizations.