Despite significant investment and prioritisation in EU policies, the percentage of women working in ICT professions has only grown from 17% to 18.5% in the last 7 years. CEPIS DiversIT Charter and the German Informatics Society, together with the Fraunhofer ICT Group, and supported by #SheTransformsIT, are organising a conference to try to find solutions to this lack of meaningful progress in retaining female tech talent.
Governments, companies, and non-profits across Europe have invested large sums of time and money into increasing the number of women working in tech. Initiatives such as the EU’s Gender Equality Strategy, Women4IT, and more, have made a huge impact in helping more women enter the tech sector.
Nevertheless, women remain underrepresented in the tech workforce. With a large focus on getting women and girls into tech, there also needs to be investment in retaining them. Challenges such as outdated stereotypes, lack of mentorship opportunities, isolation, and ‘bro culture’ in some organisations, boil down to a simple truth: if the workplace is bad, women will leave.
These tech-specific challenges only add on to the obstacles women also face in the workplace in general, including balancing caring responsibilities, the gender pay gap, and biases around motherhood.
The conference, titled, ‘Stay in tech! – Policies and practices of attracting and retaining female tech talent’, aims to help companies overcome these challenges and identify ways to retain valuable colleagues. It will take place in Berlin on 14 May 2024.
This free, one-day event will include keynotes and panel discussions on topics such as women in tech leadership positions, reasons why women leave IT careers, where to actually find top female tech talent, and how to get them to work and stay with your company. The attendees will also be able to hear from several companies about their recipes for success in making their tech workplaces more gender-equal. With speakers from government, EU institutions, and academia, as well as experts from private and public sector, the conference aims to work towards finding practical solutions to their tech talent shortages.
Gillian Arnold, Chair of the DiversIT initiative, says: “It is incredible that progress has been so slow. There is a massive shortage of IT professionals, and women are the biggest untapped talent pool. The business case for diversity is watertight. And yet, we are advancing at a rate of not even half a percent a year. Clearly, something must change. Women in tech organisations alone won’t do it. Every CIO and executive needs to get behind this urgently, if they are to find the skilled people they need in the near future.
“The main change will have to come from inside – from companies who need to change their culture, from us all as individuals, who need to become aware of our own biases, and from women techies themselves, who need to grow more confident and truly believe that they can do it.”