Treesje Verlinden, chief operating officer of Microsoft recruitment partner Curo Talent

Treesje Verlinden, chief operating officer of Microsoft recruitment partner Curo Talent, explores gender disparity, specifically within the technology sector.

The generation barrier

Debates in any arena have the concept of general ethics or values that provide guidance.

A climate of change over many decades in the arena of women in the workforce has overseen a step change in core values, led by a deep frustration with societal bias and stereotyping in socially constructed gender roles.

Women’s movements and other institutions have demanded change, agitating to promote inclusion and empowerment as ‘experts by experience’; no one can deny the contributions of Ada Lovelace, Joan Clarke and Sheryl Sandberg as just three shining examples.

However, we are still lagging. Empirical proof of bias comes with the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report startling revelation that gender parity is over 200 years away!

So how is this bias affecting the modern workplace today?

In major tech companies’ in the UK, PWC found at the start of 2017, of the workforce in STEM roles (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) 15 per cent are female and only five per cent of leadership positions in tech are held by women.

This research identified themes in prior educational careers that girls are less likely to study STEM subjects.

Following this through to GCSE and A-Levels, Recruitment International (August 2017) cite a 12 per cent drop in girls taking either ICT or computer science at GCSE and Tech Talent Charter (TTC) cite only one in ten women followed through to take A-Level computer studies.

This correlated with 17 per cent of tech as well as ICT workers being women, reinforcing PWC’s findings.

From this point on the percentage gradually dwindles, and continues to do so even after joining the work force.

Research by the Center for Talent Innovation concluded that twice the number of women leave jobs in the tech industry than men.

Just over half of women who studied STEM subjects abandoned their tech training altogether when quitting.

Stemming the tide

The introduction of new bio, neuro and genetic research is creating an impasse in this debate.

For example, developmental neuroscience using new technology such as live imaging is revealing a new level of understanding.

Neuroscientist Professor Gina Rippon speaking at International Women’s Day 2018 claimed that “men and woman do not have different brains at birth” and that “any differences in brain circuitry only come about through the ‘drip, drip, drip’ of gender stereotyping”.

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Her work with the BBC on No More Boys and Girls:

The science behind BBC’s ‘gender neutral’ documentary further showcases her claims.

Some of the results from these type of studies are conflicting and much further work will be required before being able to draw universal conclusions. Nevertheless, is this the start of a paradigm shift that could circumvent the 200 year gap?

Call to Action

Looking to the future, on-going successful lobbying and debate will continue to shape inclusion and Government legislation.

Business Leaders in all sectors, not just technology, are taking on the responsibility of being role models in moving away from past ingrained biases and toward creating opportunities that promote a supportive, accessible and diverse workforce.

Annemarie Muntz, President of the World Employment Confederation who are represented by 50 member countries globally and seven of the largest corporations in the world, reinforced this path at the recent Global Recruiter UK Summit.

She advocated ‘biodiversity’ as being vital to the labour market flourishing, this for an industry that needs one million more tech workers by 2020 to keep up with demand.

At Curo Talent we are leading by example in creating an environment that supports diversity reflected in the team, at Board level and in policy, encouraging growth and advancement, regardless of gender.

Part of our role in partnering with organisations seeking Microsoft technical experts to augment their project delivery is to evolve a diverse talent community.

Our own data, however, qualifies the earlier quoted disparities, with just 9.5 per cent of women making up our community and placement of just 5.81 per cent women over the last 12-months.

So what else are we doing in advocating progress in taking on our generation’s challenge of the gender disparity?

  1. Involvement with STEM Ambassadors Project targeting Primary School age girls
  2. Working with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation to lobby for change and promote best practice
  3. Continuing the diversity policy in future hires – watch this #curospace!

Treesje Verlinden, Chief Operating Officer, Curo Talent

About Curo Talent: A Microsoft talent solutions partner and is the ‘Smart Team Freelance Partner’ for the UK. They run a Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) freelance programme, providing all freelance resources required to support Microsoft project delivery. Curo Talent offer end-to-end consultancy, providing recruiters with talented candidates across the UK.

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