2017 has been an important year for women in the workplace. While many disturbing stories have surfaced regarding female mistreatment and harassment, this year has seen more women both from the corner office and the center cubicle come forward to openly talk about the gender imbalance at work. This has challenged some of the most powerful companies, especially in tech, to turn inward in order to fix the problem and address workplace culture.
I don’t consider myself an expert on this topic, but our team is fortunate enough to work with thought leaders who are shedding incredible insight on the topic and have been doing so even before the scandals of this year.
Kristi Riordan, COO at Flatiron School, recently spoke with Mic about the gender gap in tech and how to encourage more women to break into computer science to achieve gender parity.
She cites awareness as one of the motivators helping women join the ranks of computer engineers and other tech roles. Through Flatiron School’s partnerships with Birchbox and supermodel Karlie Kloss, the school helps raise awareness by not only helping to fund female students' educations, but also by bringing the idea of a coding education and technology as a career to life for women of every demographic. Kristi further discusses that awareness also creates a sense of mobility, especially for women who may have never considered software engineering as a career path until they’ve seen friends, family and community members successfully complete a coding course or becoming accomplished coders.
By bringing awareness to a community of curious and motivated women will only propel their interests, capabilities and passions both professionally and personally, but will help build confidence for when they launch careers in the male-dominated tech space.
Circling back to some of my own thoughts about this particular topic. Again, I’m not an expert on this issue but from what I’ve read in the media and from what I’ve heard from female leaders in tech, one piece of advice to leaders who are looking to bridge the gender divide in tech would be to create a safe space for women and men to discuss their professional challenges, setbacks and successes.
In my professional experience, it has been helpful for me to understand that it’s not just me who struggles with certain things. And it’s not just me who succeeds at other initiatives at work. Men and women alike face doubts and struggles in the workplace. But in order to feel safe and comfortable enough to talk about these things stems from the top. A top-down approach by leaders in industries that need to diversify not just in terms of gender, but also race and ethnicity, will allow both men and women to understand the challenges facing one another and develop compassion for each other.
Watch the full Mic interview here.