While 47% of the Canadian workforce are women, they remain by far the minority in the IT sector, where they account for only 20% of the workforce. Even in the largest companies (Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Uber, Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft…), they are never above the ratio of 28%.
According to a study of more than 900 Canadian techno companies, women hold only 5% of CEO positions and 13% of executive positions. They are also twice as likely as men to leave the industry. What can be done to fix this?
First, more collaboration and support of needed. A report from TECHNOCompétences published in 2017 reports sexism and misogyny in Quebec’s IT industry: “(…) in nearly all cases, women said they had to cope with the situation; they did not feel they had the support of colleagues, bosses or the organization and to reveal these problems brought risks to their integration among male colleagues or for their career progress, or even to be labelled as “troublemakers”.”
This lack of solidarity within the current structure is not seen only in Canada; a study from Harvard Business Review carried out in 2014 among engineers in the United Kingdom also emphasized the importance of setting up “inclusive micro-environments” where everyone can count on the collaboration and support of their team to counterbalance hostility, even toxicity, that is sometimes seen in the workplace.
In parallel, more measures of flexibility are needed. “Some women say they do not want to progress further than their current position because they fear they will no longer be able to find a balance between their professional life and personal/family life due to long days and the expected level of availability. Thus at a certain level in the hierarchy they believe a choice has to be made between promotions and family responsibilities,” can also be read in the TECHNOCompétences report.
The mental and emotional burdens of family life still predominantly fall on women, and it is currently difficult for them to combine them with the demanding schedules of the environment. By offering more work-family conciliation measures (remote working, flexible hours, etc.) more women would be able to climb the ranks and become, in the process, mentors for the next generation.