We must fight for women every day

11 April 2024

If we want to create a better gender balance and absolute equality in the IT industry, we must fight daily because we need to change the industry's entire culture and attitude to make it more appealing to women.

It is positive that women in the IT industry are receiving so much attention. We all agree that both the industry as a whole and each workplace must achieve a healthier gender balance.

In general, diversity in a broad sense is crucial for attracting enough bright minds, challenging each other, developing as a company, creating the best possible solutions for customers – and thriving as much as possible in the process.

Therefore, it is unhelpful that many women are deterred by a career in our industry and that the women who choose IT are penalized for being women by receiving lower pay, having poorer career opportunities, and having to endure a male-dominated culture. Unfortunately, this is still the reality and it likely contributes significantly to the fact that female IT specialists still only make up about 22 percent.

"We also need to have a massive focus on eliminating bias when hiring. Unfortunately, the starting point is that people tend to hire others who look like themselves and with whom they can identify. It's comfortable and safe. If you are a middle-aged man in a blue shirt, it would be natural to hire a similar type."

Peter Østergaard
Co-CEO, Delegate

We need to change the culture

To create better gender balance and real equality, we must fight every single day. We also need to change the entire culture and mindset in the industry so it appeals more to women, so they both choose the IT industry more often and are more inclined to stay.

Therefore, the occasional speeches and the ambitious goals or quotas that some companies set should not stand alone. As I see it, the very small daily interactions largely contribute to maintaining inappropriate structures and, thus, the skewed balance.

Take the hiring process, for example. Is the focus in job advertisements on the technical aspects that appeal more to men? Or on solutions, which appeal more to women? We also know that women prefer to meet all the requirements in a job advertisement, while men are much more likely to think that what they don't know, they can learn along the way. As employers, we need to design our advertisements not to deter women. 

Hiring someone who looks like oneself

We also need to focus heavily on eliminating bias when hiring. Unfortunately, the starting point is that people tend to hire others who look like themselves and with whom they can identify. It's comfortable and safe. If you are a middle-aged man in a blue shirt, it would be natural to hire a similar type.

However, one thing is making an effort to ensure the representation of women in the workplace, and another is ensuring the integration of women. The goal must not be for them to adapt to a male-dominated industry with the associated work culture and tone. On the contrary, we should embrace what women are particularly good at contributing, such as working systematically and structured, thinking solution-oriented, and having a healthy critical approach.

Unfortunately, some women in the industry experience that colleagues place exceptionally high demands on their views and are perceived as difficult if they challenge the existing ones. We should support women rather than risk keeping them down – as we should support everyone else who contributes with new perspectives.

Genuine equality rather than special treatment

In our company, we do not believe in quotas or goals for the proportion of women or others. We experience that few want special treatment but to be appreciated for their qualities. And, of course, to be rewarded and treated as deserved – which, unfortunately, is not a given. For example, we have succeeded in erasing wage differences between women and men, so you will surely be within a 'wage band' that matches your qualifications.

But like many others, we are not there yet, and women are not queuing up in front of our offices. Changing all the small and large mechanisms that keep women away from the IT industry requires a significant and persistent effort from all of us and some patience.

We are only starting to see the results of some of the diversity efforts we launched several years ago. It's a bit like turning a supertanker. But the metaphor also reassures me that we can create a positive and self-reinforcing development in the industry over time – if each of us collectively works to make the IT industry an attractive place to work, regardless of gender.

Good fight – every day!

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