The current state of women’s representation in the tech industry paints a concerning picture. While it may appear that progress is being made with more women entering the tech workforce, the statistics, as reported by Techopedia, tell a different story.
Women in tech statistics
Only 32 percent of tech industry professionals are women — a decline from the 35 percent recorded in 1984. In 2023, the percentage of women in tech leadership roles dropped to 28 percent. In fact, a staggering 50 percent of women in tech roles leave their positions by age 35, and 32 percent of women in technical and engineering roles often find themselves as the sole woman in the room at work.
What Does Being a Senior Level Woman in IT Look Like?
According to a 2023 survey conducted by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, a lack of representation contributes to a weak pipeline from the manager and director level to the senior level. Combine this with director-level women leaving their positions at a higher rate than in the past, and there are simply fewer women up for senior leadership positions than men.
To get an idea of how it feels to be a woman working in a senior position within the information technology field, we spoke one-on-one with five colleagues from different DataArt locations around the globe: a solutions architect, two senior developers, a head of research and development and an engagement manager. Here are the lessons they’ve learned from climbing the corporate ladder in tech.
“Teaching Yourself on the Job” — Alona Zubenko (Riabchenko), Senior developer in Ukraine.
Software development is a male-dominated profession, which can be challenging for women at the beginning of their career. You will have to learn things on your own and solve many issues that arise in the work process by yourself. At the same time, you need to be prepared to defend your opinion when it comes to problem solving with the team. Tech can be an incredibly worthwhile sphere to enter for women who genuinely enjoy solving puzzles and coding.
“Making an Extra Effort” — Florencia Marchionni, Senior Developer in Argentina.
I’ve been working in IT for more than 20 years. In 2023, I still sometimes found myself in meetings comprised of 15 men and me. Things are getting much better in Latin America, but there’s still a significant disparity.
There are some men who encourage you to participate and others who treat you like a secretary there to take notes. As a woman in IT, you can’t just wait until someone asks your opinion or introduces you. You should find the courage to raise your hand and participate. That’s an extra effort we need to make.
In our field all the knowledge is online — there are free, paid, short and long courses — so study. Knowledge gives you power. But don’t keep your studies 100 percent technical. Soft skills are also necessary. You must know how to deal with people, negotiate and have difficult conversations.
“Judging Yourself Based on Results” — Olga Romanova, Engagement manager in Germany.
One time, after a meeting, a client said, “It must be hard to be a lady boss.” When I asked him what he meant, he elaborated, “Well, when I come home after a long day, my wife prepares dinner for me and my kids. Who’s doing that for you?”
I graduated from a faculty of applied mathematics and engineering, and only about 30 percent of the students were female. There was not a single girl in specialties like automated design systems. I started working as a project manager and managed teams mostly comprised of men. At first, there were some guys in the room who made me feel like they were thinking, “Oh, she’s probably just a girl moving tasks across Jira.” But it never bothered me.
Now, I supervise more than 80 people on my accounts. People should judge you based on results, not your gender or nationality. If IT is your true passion, just go for it.
“Speaking Up With Dignity” — Sheetal Kale, Head of R&D in India.
I began working in male-dominated environments in my twenties. My first job was at a global pharma company, and I was the first woman salesperson among 15 male sales colleagues. Of course, I had to work much harder and be more convincing, prepared and knowledgeable than my male counterparts. I had to prove that I knew my stuff. Fortunately, I had excellent managers and mentors who supported me, making the journey smoother. I’ve only had a few situations when I experienced prejudice.
For example, once, about eight years ago, a top manager from my company was introducing me to somebody and just couldn’t seem to bring himself to say, “This is Sheetal, director of this company.” It seemed he was embarrassed that a lady could be in charge. Since then, I have always provided clear guidance to my colleagues on how to introduce me.
In India, many women work in IT and in computer sciences, especially in larger cities. Many women work at both junior and middle levels. I see fewer women in senior or leadership positions, though, especially in IT and on IT-related public speaking platforms. And there is still the bias that a chief technology officer/chief information officer should be a man.
Regardless, if you’re struggling, speak up for yourself with dignity and respect. Reach out to your leaders and colleagues and ask for assistance.
“Becoming Fluent in Men’s Language” — Lyudmila Dezhkina, solutions architect in the U.S.A.
Once upon a time, in the bustling tech world, I found myself as the sole woman on a predominantly male development team. We were working on a high-pressure project with an unforgiving deadline, and the tension in the air was palpable.
During one particularly intense coding session, I couldn’t help but notice that my male counterparts had developed their unique way of communicating. It was a language of jargon and acronyms, a secret code that made technical discussions sound like an alien tongue. I felt like an outsider, struggling to understand.
But not for long. Soon, I became fluent in their jargon and acronyms. The rest of the world might not have understood me after that...
In IT, it’s essential to realize that learning never stops, and you’ll never have all the answers. Even now, I occasionally look in the mirror and say, “Okay, stay calm, we’ll figure this out.” Have confidence in your abilities and never underestimate your potential. Seek out mentors and allies who can offer guidance and support. Don’t hesitate to voice your ideas and opinions; your unique perspective is your strength. Embrace continuous learning, stay updated with industry trends and remember: Challenges are stepping stones to success.
We hope that these pieces of advice and the examples set by these strong professionals can help other women break barriers and make the IT industry a place where everyone, regardless of their gender, can thrive.