Life At Druva

How Tech and Software Can #EmbraceEquity on International Women’s Day 2023

Preethi Srinivasan, Director of Innovation

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated every year on March 8th to honor the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women worldwide. The day also serves as a call to action for gender equality and women's rights. The first IWD was celebrated over 100 years ago in 1911, and since then, it has become a global movement, inspiring countless women to stand up and speak out for their rights.

Despite significant progress made in recent years, gender inequality remains a critical issue in many sectors — particularly in the tech and software industries. According to a 2022 study, women account for only 27.6% of the technology workforce. The situation is even worse in leadership positions, with women holding only 11% of executive roles in Fortune 500 companies.

How Big Tech Can #EmbraceEquity on IWD23

This year's IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity, which calls for a collective effort to create a more inclusive and equal world. Equity means ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. Achieving equity is essential for building a fair and just society, where everyone can thrive. 

The tech and software industries in particular can benefit from embracing equity, as it will help to attract and retain diverse talent, improve innovation, and drive business success. However, achieving equity requires a fundamental shift in attitudes and behaviors, and everyone has a role to play.

At Druva, we are incredibly excited to announce our commitment to embracing equity through the launch of our Women in Cyber Resilience Network. As represented in the statistic above, women in both IT and data security-related fields continue to be incredibly underrepresented and still experience a great deal of bias at work. Solely based on gender, they are often stereotyped as less capable than males doing the same or similar jobs. Our goal is to connect and uplift women and allies through our women’s network. We will have both virtual and in-person opportunities for women across the industry to connect. Interested in joining the network or learning more? Drop your information here.

Breaking the Bias

One of the most significant barriers women face in trying to enter and be taken seriously within the tech industry are the stereotypes that shroud it. These stereotypes often start to eat away at women from a young age, with a recent UN paper warning that girls are being ‘steered away from STEM’ due to stereotypes often being perpetuated in media and curricula that make technology seem like an unappealing or unlikely career route for them. With women making up less than 20% of STEM professionals worldwide it’s unsurprising that 78% of students are unable to name a single famous woman in tech. 

In this context, it can be easy to continue to label it as a male domain and see it as impenetrable or unwelcoming, deterring women from applying or having ambitions to enter these roles. However, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that both women and men need to be conscious of in order to break. There is no easy fix to unconscious bias but a good place to start is having both men and women take responsibility. This means that women have a responsibility to break the bias by taking risks, and we all break the bias by not judging women harshly when they do take these risks. Equally, women break the bias by applying for leadership roles, and we all help to break the bias by giving women a fair chance when they do.

How Businesses Play a Role — Hiring, Promoting, and Pay

Part of giving women a fair chance when they apply for STEM roles is leveling the means in which candidates are judged. Women are typically judged by what they have already done, whereas men are often promoted based on their potential. This is detrimental, especially when it comes to promoting and hiring women in leadership positions, as potential is ignored until it is proven. Helping women into leadership positions isn’t about special treatment or favoring female candidates, it's about giving them an equal chance to compete and a level playing field in which to do so. With economic conditions freezing the hiring process for a lot of companies, they are in a great place to be able to enact positive changes now and approach hiring with more diversity in mind. 

However, equality in the workplace doesn’t just begin and end with the hiring process. Pay inequality is a big hurdle that companies need to overcome as well in order to bring opportunities for women and men into alignment. Without addressing the pay gap, which 32% of women identified as their biggest challenge in tech, companies face losing female talent. Tech in particular has a larger-than-average pay gap of 16%. It is also the case that women occupy less than a quarter of top-paying jobs in the industry while holding about 40% of the lowest-paid jobs.

Pay equality is often thought of in black-and-white terms: if a woman and a man had the same job, they’d be offered the same paycheck, but the issue of pay equality runs deeper than this, reflecting women being underrepresented in senior roles. Organizations can begin to make a difference here by looking more closely at the salary paid not just by job, but also by level and function. Women need to be promoted based on the same metric of potential and not just proven experience and, when this happens, companies need to ensure that equal pay is given for the equal value of work.

Key Takeaways

It’s not too late to change the trajectory and widen access to jobs in the technology sector for women. I’ve had the pleasure of working with several inspiring men and women alike and seeing their career paths go in equally exciting, inspiring, and fulfilling directions. But this can only happen when companies create an atmosphere that is conducive to success. This means organizations fixing the pipeline to promotion so women have opportunities, that they’re judged fairly and on equal metrics in the process, and if they succeed, they’re paid correctly and in parity with their male colleagues.

As we look ahead, we must recognize that achieving equity is a continuous journey that requires ongoing effort and commitment. It is essential to hold ourselves and our organizations accountable for creating a more equal and just world for all. By working together, we can change the culture and achieve equity in the tech and software industries and beyond. 

This International Women's Day, let’s pledge to #EmbraceEquity and work toward creating a more inclusive and equal world. Let us celebrate the achievements of women and honor their contributions, while also recognizing the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality. Together, we can create a brighter future for all.

Engage with Druva on our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, for more on IWD 2023, and share your #EmbraceEquity story.