Women in Tech: Leveling the Playing Field

The gender gap is societally based, and change needs to happen at a core level. Not just with how men see women in the industry, but with how women see themselves.


The tech industry is growing and evolving at an exponential pace. New opportunities and innovations are appearing every day.  The majority of college degrees earned are in STEM fields. U.S. tech budgets will expand by 6.7% in 2022. And competitive compensation, flexible hours and worldly culture are attracting a young, dynamic workforce. But for all this change and development in the industry, one aspect remains unfortunately static — lack of gender diversity.

Despite the industry being based on the notion of innovation and disruption to the “old ways”, the perception of women’s capabilities and contributions to the industry is unfortunately still rooted in the heavily biased past. Women are underrepresented in technology leadership, presenting fewer role models and possible allies for others entering the industry. 

This often starts at the ground level, where few women choose to be in STEM roles. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women received more than half of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences in 2015. However, women received far fewer degrees in the computer sciences (18%) and engineering (20%) that same year. 

This gap is societally based, and change needs to happen at a core level. Not just with how men see women in the industry, but with how women see themselves and their potential for success. There are needs that go beyond formal education. Mentoring programs can be vital first steps to encouraging young women to enter the tech industry. 

When I started this company, I knew I wanted gender diversity to be at the heart of our workforce strategy, and that has enabled us to follow through on the promise. Currently, 50% of the executive roles are filled by women, and 46% of the entire company are women. Gender representation in the tech industry needs to be balanced because diverse thinking is imperative both for innovation and for agile execution. We have made it a core initiative to be more inclusive of women in hiring, promotional and cultural strategies. We founded the Planckademy, an internal training course for inexperienced college graduates, which helps train developers — a field with very low female representation. In the class of 2021-2022, 57% of participants were women. 

Donating to and volunteeing with numerous nonprofits that address this agenda is a beneficial exercise, as well. One organization we like to support is SheCodes, a non-profit organization that offers free training in coding for women (by women). Our executives have refereed hack-a-thons and recruited female developers who have gone on to make amazing contributions to our organization. 

To address gender disparity, organizations of all sizes must first understand why representation of women is beneficial. At a tech company, situations evolve quickly, and there’s not a lot of time available for research and decision-making. A diverse team includes different backgrounds and brings new ideas to the table. Taking in these viewpoints allows you to broaden your perspective as a leader. Being better-equipped to react and adapt leads to a better organization and a healthier bottom line.

The evidence shows overwhelmingly that diverse companies have stronger employee engagement, talent retention and operational success. When an employee feels seen, appreciated and represented, she or he is inspired to deliver better work, contributing to the financial health of the organization. 

Planck also gives higher ranking to investors with female partners and women in key roles. The board of directors manages the CEO, and, thus far, I have selected three female directors. My objective for Planck is to achieve 51% female representation overall, reflecting the makeup of the globe. 

See also: How Women Can Cut Through the Tangles

While this shift in mentality needs to come from the core, change begins at the top. CEOs and founders have the responsibility to choose wisely and consciously. Be mindful of hiring in a balanced fashion. Take a hard look at your own personal biases, acknowledge them and consider them when decisions are made. Make sure that women’s voices are heard in all discussions regarding the work environment and culture; that diversity, equity and inclusion are core components of your employee experience and brand; set the bar higher in the industry by speaking out about gender disparity in tech and contributing to gender equity conversations and initiatives. It can pay dividends to provide internal education opportunities and career paths to create opportunities for women to gain experience and excel.

Organizations must frame diversity as a competitive advantage and build hiring strategies around that goal. You can start making a difference at your company by considering the concerns of women in the workforce. A few standards we follow include:

  • Promote an inclusive, clean and respectful workplace
  • Provide flexible work schedules and fully remote options
  • Perform formal annual salary reviews to maintain a zero gap in gender pay equity
  • Practice role-modeling by promoting women from within and scheduling internal presentations by successful women from the tech industry 

COVID-19 shifted the landscape of business worldwide, and the enduring lessons of the pandemic have the potential to further the role of women in tech. In 2020, millions of women left the workforce due to the caregiver crisis – sacrificing their jobs to take care of children and loved ones. Since that time, extended lockdown measures have completely changed the way the world does business, normalizing the concept of a fully remote workforce. In 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the tech industry saw a significant increase in resignations over the previous year. In a tight labor market where all employers are competing for talent, tech companies should consider reaching out to talented female candidates with offers of flexible work options and a better employee experience.

Sponsoring women’s communities with meetups and nonprofits, creating a supportive environment for all employees to thrive and building varied routes to success illuminates the pathways for tomorrow’s leaders — men and women — and fosters a stronger tech industry. A vision we all aim to achieve.

Elad Tsur

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Elad Tsur

Elad Tsur is CEO and co-founder of Planck, an AI-based commercial insurance data platform that enables insurers to instantly underwrite any business.

He is a serial entrepreneur with in-depth expertise in artificial intelligence and big data and is a nationally recognized expert in machine learning. Planck was listed among top startups for best women representation in the Power in Diversity 2021 Women in Startups Report.

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