Diverse Tech Teams and How To Build Them

Those of you who have spent any amount of time with me will know that I am very passionate about diversity in tech. In my mind, this is about making tech accessible, open, and inviting to the broadest range of people possible. Having the people who are using tech also be involved in creating it, is critical to ensure that what we build is useful, safe, and inspiring for the widest possible range of people.

I’ve spent huge amounts of energy facilitating tech education and in particular working to ensure there are great spaces for women to learn how to be active participants in technology creation.  Now it’s time to make sure they stay in the industry and move into leadership roles. The best way to do this is through the support and power of Community.

Firstly, let’s do a quick recap of why diversity is good for business, just so we’re all on the same page.

Diversity is good for business

A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has found that diversity increases revenue for companies.

“Increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance” was a lead finding by the study, which looked at 1700 companies across 8 countries. Companies with more diverse management teams were shown to have 19% higher revenue, due to innovation.

For tech companies, startups, and any industry where innovation is the key to success, this report shows that diversity isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ metric to slowly head towards, but a key strategic necessity.

If you stop to contemplate this for a while, it makes sense. More diversity means a diversity of approaches, experiences, minds, and ideas - this allows teams to look at problems from a variety of angles and produce a more considered solution. 

Aside from profitability, having diverse teams working together on technology is crucial to ensure we are creating tech for ‘good’ and not ‘evil’. There are countless examples of technology having unintended consequences, but are they really unintended if we did nothing to prevent them? We cannot foresee every outcome, but there are opportunities to consider as many harmful consequences as possible, and having a diverse team consider the implications of a product is a good first step.

The Current State of Play

In Australia, the gender diversity in technology is abysmal. In year 12 computing classes, 19% of students are female and 81% are male. 

In 1st year university Computer Science degrees, the stats are the same. 19% female, 81% male.

In the tech workforce, 16% are female, somewhere along the journey, we lose another 3% of women. 

Graduate salaries for women in technology are 14.8% less than for equally qualified men. In the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)  sector), the quit rate for women is 41%, which is more than double the 17% for men. 

When you look at the quit rate of women for technology, it's even higher - 56%. Over 50% of women leave STEM before they are 35. *

There are many proposed reasons for women leaving technology at such an alarming rate, these are often reported as being a lack of career progression and  lack of flexible work practices. However, the reason I find most jarring is the one of perceived incompetence arising from conscious or unconscious bias.

At the moment, technology starts with fewer women, pays them less, assumes a lower level of competency which results in over half of them leaving the industry mid-career.

From both a societal and industry outcomes perspective, we should strive to do better.

The Good News

There are several amazing programs in Australia working to address concerns in the pipeline early on, and to encourage more women to get into technology at any age. The organisations in this space are truly inspirational and run by passionate, intelligent women. 

There is opportunity for us to now make sure that the talented and enthusiastic women technologists we have stay in the industry. The best way to do this is through the power of Community. 

What is Community?

Community connection offers a sense of belonging, and the recognition that tech is a place for women to be. Along with networking opportunities, it offers a space to learn new skills  and amplify one another’s success.

Group of four women in front of a board at a tech community event.
DDD Melbourne 2019

Explore: Learn new things.

The best part of the tech industry is how it forces us to be constant problem solvers.
To be at the best of our game, we need to be continually learning. We run a wide ranging selection of training courses throughout the year, both for technical development and professional development.

Engage: Connect with the industry.

What’s great about community?

The people you meet!

When we're able to, events will be in person, but for the time being they will be remote. This means that you can still  connect and meet new people and grow your network.

Community is fabulous and helps you feel connected, it also makes sure you know about new job opportunities and what's happening in the wider ecosystem.

‍Empower: Do the next thing

Coming together with Community support empowers people to expand their horizons and take calculated risks, it offers opportunities go for that next promotion:

“With the support, encouragement and practical strategies from The Human Collective, I felt confident to apply for a new job at an organisation I didn't think would want me --- and I got it! THANKS HEAPS!!!"

If you  want to join our Community, sign up here.

Next Steps

The pipeline is not passive; it has values that hold people back based on their gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality & physical abilities. It reinforces the idea that only some belong. The Human Collective can help your organisation change this by working with  you to attract and retain great women. 

If building diverse technical teams is important to you, you can get in touch about working with us as a sponsor here.

*This data is from the Australian Academy of Science Women in Stem Decadal Plan.

Drop us a message and see how we can help you!

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