The Talent Equity List: Tackling Gender Imbalance in Tech

  • The Talent Equity List (TEL) was launched with a bang in Belfast this September, as part of a special event hosted by Search 5.0, entitled ‘Defining Equity: Tackling Gender Imbalance in Tech’.

    The TEL joins up female and non-binary tech candidates with firms who are passionate about promoting greater inclusion through new hires. The event is intended as a springboard to showcase the TEL as a major new DEI initiative to shake up the tech sector.

    Discussing the subject of tackling gender imbalance in tech at the event were Laura Lavery from PA Consulting as host, with fellow speakers Suzi Stewart, Global Talent Acquisition Manager of Digital Services Kainos, Ross Hompstead, ASOS Site Lead and Janine Crosbie, Belfast Site Lead of Mintel.

    Decoding Gender Bias

    There was no better way for the panel to address tackling the gender imbalance in tech than by highlighting techniques to identify and avoid gender bias during hiring. One of the game-changing tools cited by the panel was gender decoders, tools which employers can use to detect subtle linguistic gender coding in job adverts.

    By decoding gender-biased wording in ads, businesses are now better placed to remove any content in job ads which might discourage candidates to apply for a role depending on their gender.

    Ross Hompstead relayed the effectiveness of gender decoding tools, claiming use of it on ads for specific roles, especially in senior leadership, led to a marked increase in female applicants. Ross added, “We’re now 80% female on that [senior leadership] team…we had far more female applicants, we now have a fantastic team…of senior female role models.”

    RELATED: 2024 Women in Business Awards launch with new ‘Best Apprentice’ category

    Defining Roles in the Workplace

    The role of women in the workplace was one of many topics to be raised, allowing Janine Crosbie to recount her own experiences of toxic workplace culture. She said, “I worked for a US corporate, heavily male-dominated…it always did feel like…‘Oh you’re female, you go in there, head down to that conference because you’re a female’…If you asked anybody who worked with me back then, they would say that I had to work 10 times harder to get my directorship.”

    Suzi Stewart spoke to the issues she faced in previous lines of work, saying “I felt I had to speak louder to be heard because I was pregnant. Things like that would come up…I thought, this is not right…it’s about having that voice.”

    One of the ways Suzi ultimately found her voice professionally was through having a female mentor at her current employer, someone who is also the company’s CTO. Having confidence as individuals, in her view, is an important quality for women to possess, to continue to have a voice.

    RELATED: Warning sounded against cyber-enabled crime at NI Fraud Conference ahead of Black Friday and Christmas shopping period

    The Importance of STEM

    The barriers to entry for women in tech were raised as a topic, with the lack of a STEM background mentioned as one such barrier, keeping women out of tech and positions of leadership in tech altogether.

    According to STEM Women, just 31% of people studying core STEM subjects in higher education in 2022-23 were women or non-binary people. To improve women’s participation in STEM and boost representation within tech by extension, a drive to promote the subjects in schools was highlighted as crucial. During the discussion, however, it was acknowledged that such promotional drives for studying STEM subjects could take as many as 10-15 years before bearing fruit and improving representation in the workplace.

    Suzi touched on the subject, suggesting cause for optimism and that times were changing, especially within her own family: “When I was at school, it was either law or accountancy. Tech was never really talked about back then. My daughter’s eight…very into tech, absolutely loves it and I love to see that.”

    Challenges remain for women in the workplace, and more work must be done to ensure greater representation within the tech sector. However, the groundwork to give women voices and the drive to pursue an interest in technology is already being laid. The Talent Equity List goes one step further, as an initiative that gives employers profiles of female and non-binary candidates on a regular basis – it does so, but only with employers whom we are assured will see that candidates are given fair terms of pay, promotion and career progression, allowing the List to truly represent equal opportunities.

    Source: Written from press release 

Share this story