As a leader, what can you do to help women in the tech industry succeed? How can you bridge the digital divide and lift others with you as you reach new heights?
Many women in leadership are asking these questions. After all, despite the myriad of life-changing technological advancements, a lack of female leaders in tech remains outdated. And although the percentage of women in senior IT leadership positions grew from 21% to 24% between 2018 and 2019, recent figures showed that women still have a small overall share of IT leadership jobs. Women account for only 16% of senior-level tech jobs and 10% of executive positions. This indicates that there are still significant gender gaps in tech leadership positions.
Of course, overcoming gender biases must be rooted in women who exhibit competence for the role. Large tech organizations seeking executive leadership candidates expect you to be able to apply the key tenets of organizational leadership in a very effective manner. This is because leadership tasks expect you to devise effective goals and develop policies that will progress the organization to greater heights in an already competitive tech industry. However, educational background alone is not enough to equip leaders for this daunting role. Any individual who wants to attain a top executive position must have additional mentorship experience to ensure they have well-rounded skills, regardless of gender.
In this article, we will discuss the status of mentorship programs for women in the tech industry and look into how to develop a female-focused training project that will help you retain and support your women talent.
Why Are Mentorships for Women Important?
Having a reliable mentor in the workplace helps you learn the tasks and responsibilities of the job quickly. This is because you get the chance to be exposed to real-life situations, allowing you to apply your skills and knowledge in solving them. If you’ve been mentored before taking a leadership position, you can consider yourself lucky since not everyone has mentors to guide them, especially women in tech.
A study on gender diversity in STEM disciplines revealed that 48% of women in tech felt that the lack of female mentors was one of the biggest barriers at work. In addition, 42% thought there was a lack of female role models in their workplace. These results are concerning because female mentors and role models can have a powerful impact on the feeling of belonging in the workplace, particularly in a male-dominated industry.
How Can Mentorship Programs Support Women in Tech?
If mentorship programs are available for female employees, the chances of more women entering the field and achieving leadership roles will increase. This is evident in an article on successful mentoring of women, which claimed that mentoring increased the retention rates of female employees and elevated their success in obtaining promotions at work. Moreover, mentorships helped them minimize their feelings of isolation and contributed to increased self-confidence and work engagement.
In fact, a survey from a Forbes article shared that 89% of women who participated in mentoring schemes felt empowered by the experience. It just shows that fostering positive feelings through mentoring in your workplace is a factor in encouraging and creating more female leaders in the tech industry.
How Can You Develop Female-Focused Mentorship Programs?
Developing an effective mentorship program requires you to consider your target demographic since this will help you create a suitable project that addresses the needs and characteristics of the mentees.
When designing a female-focused mentorship program, you must remember to involve your junior female employees in the discussion. Because who knows more about their struggles in the workplace than they do? Besides involving your employees, here are other tips you can do to develop a successful female-focused program:
- Define your program’s goals and expectations.
By doing so, you can start your program on a clear and strong foundation. This will make it easier for other women to know about your efforts.
- Find and match potential mentors with mentees.
Just having a mentor is not enough. For women to flourish, it’s important that your mentorship program take personalities and nuances into consideration.
- Evaluate the impact of your program.
Regular evaluations are crucial to ensure that your initiatives are reaching their goals. Through these you can continue to fine-tune your program and enhance your relevance.
Should You Mentor Your Fellow Colleagues?
Lastly, it’s worth considering having women leaders like you mentor junior women team members. Being mentored by women in senior positions allows female employees to realize from the start that gender has no bearing on business acumen.
This realization from early on in their careers gives women a broader and more rounded perspective, which is an advantage for growing their careers.
Similarly, in our recent interview with Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu, we shared more about the importance of connecting with fellow women leaders. This was specifically important for Esther, as she shares the lessons she has learned herself to help other women accelerate their careers and break through the glass ceiling.
As a woman leading in your field, you can also impact the mindset of female employees by being an example of a woman succeeding in tech.
Ultimately, mentoring your women colleagues in the tech industry will not only disrupt the male-dominated sector, it will also open opportunities for them to grow and lead in the profession they love, inspiring younger women to pursue a career in the field, too.
About the author
Jacquie Beller is a freelance writer and women activist. She believes that women have the power to become outstanding leaders in the corporate world. Today, she continuously writes articles about women’s empowerment to inspire fellow women to chase their passions.