“I remember thinking ‘Is this because I’m a woman?”
Almost one in three women in the tech industry have been told that they only got the job because they are a woman. That’s according to a survey by UK-based jobs recruiter CWjobs, which also found that one in five women believe they have been overlooked for promotion because of their gender.
One business analyst commented to CWJobs: “I’ve had occasions when male members of my team have tried to guess if it’s ‘that time of the month’.
“I’ve had female hiring managers at previous jobs tell me they didn’t want to hire women of a certain age because they might get pregnant…”
She expressed concern that the problem doesn’t just lie in straight up sexist comments, but it permeates throughout the working day and the sexist culture in some workplaces drains away agency and confidence.
When explaining a specialist work-related issue her male colleague didn’t accept her solution and she says that: “I remember thinking ‘Is this because I’m a woman, or does he think I don’t know what I am talking about?’, because, let’s be honest, we don’t want to think that people we encounter are sexist.”
CWjobs’ survey found that the most infuriating phrases women in tech (along, no doubt, with other industries) they hear on a regular basis are:
- Sweetheart/love/darling etc. – 93%
- Cheer up / Smile more – 83%
- Can you make us all tea / coffee? – 69%
- Not bad for a girl – 66%
- Oh well done! (sarcastic) – 65%
CWjobs notes that: “The reality is, whilst sexist attitudes and behaviours frustratingly do exist, the majority of men want gender parity and support their female counterparts in the call for equality.”
Women in Tech
Last year the Hampton-Alexander government 2018 review into female representation within FTSE companies received the striking response that: ‘’Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.’’
The review captured the views of 23,000 leaders in 350 of the UK’s largest companies. Women holding positions on boards of top 100 FTSE companies has been slow to rise, gaining less than 1% as female representation in the boardroom rose from 26.6% in 2016 to 27.7% last year.
Among the excuses offered by FTSE 350 Chairs and CEO’s were: “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment,’’ and “there aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex.’’
The FTSE 100 set a target last year to reach a level of over a third female representation in leadership roles. This goal has now been extended to include FTSE 250 companies.
The disparaging comments from some CEO’s and chairs came at a time of increasing awareness of male-orientated work spaces, with certain tech companies receiving stark criticism from former female employees.
Laws introduced into the UK in April of 2017 ensure that any company with a staff of over 250 must report their gender pay gaps. This is seen as a step in the right direction in balancing out how gender issues are treated within companies and should help to modernise UK work spaces.