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Want to support women in tech? Let them lead

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The tech industry is still a tight-knit old boys’ club. Women are a minority in most (if not all) tech spaces. If “brogrammer” culture continues, tech will lose any number of talented women to burnout or better opportunities. If the tech industry wants to be inclusive of women, women must be allowed to lead.

The proportion of women at large tech companies remains staggeringly low at 25%, according to Deloitte. Additionally, most women in tech feel more pessimistic about their career prospects now than they did before the pandemic. Nearly 60% of women are expected to change jobs, mostly due to inadequate work-life balance, and more than 20% are considering leaving the workforce.

The tech industry’s promises of inclusion are responses to large-scale diversity, equity, and inclusion marketing. We saw this demonstrated when some tech companies stated they would cover employee travel costs after the overturn of Roe v. Wade but didn’t take a stance on the matter. For all the tech industry’s talk of gender equity, there hasn’t been much progress.

Creating a level playing field for women in STEM will be a long road. But to get there the most efficiently, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

We’re a long way away from addressing tech’s brogrammer roots. The industry isn’t facing a women in tech problem but a gender equality at work problem. VC firms continue to fund male tech entrepreneurs over women, despite evidence that women-led companies perform better overall.

It’s simple: Leveling the playing field for women in science, technology, engineering, and math benefits companies. Hiring women to senior leadership positions in STEM improves overall organizational attitudes toward women, changes how employees talk and think, and helps mitigate stereotypes that might have been deeply rooted for generations.

It’s not just company culture that benefits when women lead. Women leaders often take on so-called unseen work, such as mentoring and coaching, that directly boosts morale and addresses team burnout, improving retention and reducing turnover. According to Harvard Business Review, women leaders consistently rank high for traits of successful but “human” leaders; 55% of women leaders were ranked as “wise” and “compassionate” compared to just 27% of men.

Women leaders also hire other women, helping close the equity divide. And women with intersectional identities are rich sources of creative innovation for the many perspectives they bring. Women also outperform men in codinginterpersonal, and leadership skills (if you’re still keeping score).

So why are people still asking, “Why can’t we just hire the most qualified person in the room?” Well, we must admit that “most qualified” is subjective and needs redefining to reveal the unseen work of female leaders.

Here’s how tech leaders can walk the walk in progressing toward gender equity:

Measure your percentage of women in leadership

If your company is like most, the percentage of women in leadership will be less than 20%. If your general staff is closer to 50% women, this should prompt questions about why leadership doesn’t reflect that. Once you know this baseline within your company, you can set a target to improve it.

Implement family-friendly policies

A great example of how to support women in tech is by helping employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. Things like flexible working hours, remote or hybrid employment options, flexible paid time off “pools” of days, and reimbursement for childcare expenses at company events can go a long way toward putting actions behind promises.

Hold all leaders to the same standards

If we genuinely hold men and women to equal performance standards, we shine a light on the invisible—yet invaluable—work that women shoulder, and a different picture of high leadership performance will emerge.

In addition to objective performance metrics (such as return on investment or team efficiency), hold leaders accountable for employee engagement, growth, and satisfaction. This ensures that no leader’s strengths go unappreciated or weaknesses go ignored, tolerated, or praised just because their team meets performance goals. It’s not enough for teams to deliver if they’re miserable. We must hold our leaders to higher standards.

Publicly appreciate and acknowledge women leaders’ work

The tech industry is a man’s world, where the gender divide between men (92%) and women (5%) developers is one of the starkest in the knowledge work sector. That pressures women to over-perform, leading to stress, job dissatisfaction, and burnout. This partially explains the high rates of women leaving the tech industry today.

Leadership teams should set goals or discuss initiatives related to staff satisfaction, development, and engagement alongside sales and revenue targets. By acknowledging, appreciating, and rewarding work that too often falls upon women, you’ll demonstrate its significance and empower more women to pursue leadership roles.

Ensure job postings don’t alienate women

If salary is negotiable, say that in the job posting; this will increase the likelihood that women feel comfortable applying. Listing your corporate social responsibility initiatives can also help increase the number of diverse applicants. Showing you understand the nuance of employees’ lives will attract more women from the onset.

You don’t have to look hard for evidence of the benefits of hiring women in tech. But despite big promises, the industry has a long way to go in figuring out how to support women in tech. The key to changing this dynamic is to empower women not only to work for your company but also to lead it.


Kim Stearns is director of product management at Synapse Studios.





The tech industry is still a tight-knit old boys’ club. Women are a minority in most (if not all) tech spaces. If “brogrammer” culture continues, tech will lose any number of talented women to burnout or better opportunities. If the tech industry wants to be inclusive of women, women must be allowed to lead.

The proportion of women at large tech companies remains staggeringly low at 25%, according to Deloitte. Additionally, most women in tech feel more pessimistic about their career prospects now than they did before the pandemic. Nearly 60% of women are expected to change jobs, mostly due to inadequate work-life balance, and more than 20% are considering leaving the workforce.

The tech industry’s promises of inclusion are responses to large-scale diversity, equity, and inclusion marketing. We saw this demonstrated when some tech companies stated they would cover employee travel costs after the overturn of Roe v. Wade but didn’t take a stance on the matter. For all the tech industry’s talk of gender equity, there hasn’t been much progress.

Creating a level playing field for women in STEM will be a long road. But to get there the most efficiently, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

We’re a long way away from addressing tech’s brogrammer roots. The industry isn’t facing a women in tech problem but a gender equality at work problem. VC firms continue to fund male tech entrepreneurs over women, despite evidence that women-led companies perform better overall.

It’s simple: Leveling the playing field for women in science, technology, engineering, and math benefits companies. Hiring women to senior leadership positions in STEM improves overall organizational attitudes toward women, changes how employees talk and think, and helps mitigate stereotypes that might have been deeply rooted for generations.

It’s not just company culture that benefits when women lead. Women leaders often take on so-called unseen work, such as mentoring and coaching, that directly boosts morale and addresses team burnout, improving retention and reducing turnover. According to Harvard Business Review, women leaders consistently rank high for traits of successful but “human” leaders; 55% of women leaders were ranked as “wise” and “compassionate” compared to just 27% of men.

Women leaders also hire other women, helping close the equity divide. And women with intersectional identities are rich sources of creative innovation for the many perspectives they bring. Women also outperform men in codinginterpersonal, and leadership skills (if you’re still keeping score).

So why are people still asking, “Why can’t we just hire the most qualified person in the room?” Well, we must admit that “most qualified” is subjective and needs redefining to reveal the unseen work of female leaders.

Here’s how tech leaders can walk the walk in progressing toward gender equity:

Measure your percentage of women in leadership

If your company is like most, the percentage of women in leadership will be less than 20%. If your general staff is closer to 50% women, this should prompt questions about why leadership doesn’t reflect that. Once you know this baseline within your company, you can set a target to improve it.

Implement family-friendly policies

A great example of how to support women in tech is by helping employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. Things like flexible working hours, remote or hybrid employment options, flexible paid time off “pools” of days, and reimbursement for childcare expenses at company events can go a long way toward putting actions behind promises.

Hold all leaders to the same standards

If we genuinely hold men and women to equal performance standards, we shine a light on the invisible—yet invaluable—work that women shoulder, and a different picture of high leadership performance will emerge.

In addition to objective performance metrics (such as return on investment or team efficiency), hold leaders accountable for employee engagement, growth, and satisfaction. This ensures that no leader’s strengths go unappreciated or weaknesses go ignored, tolerated, or praised just because their team meets performance goals. It’s not enough for teams to deliver if they’re miserable. We must hold our leaders to higher standards.

Publicly appreciate and acknowledge women leaders’ work

The tech industry is a man’s world, where the gender divide between men (92%) and women (5%) developers is one of the starkest in the knowledge work sector. That pressures women to over-perform, leading to stress, job dissatisfaction, and burnout. This partially explains the high rates of women leaving the tech industry today.

Leadership teams should set goals or discuss initiatives related to staff satisfaction, development, and engagement alongside sales and revenue targets. By acknowledging, appreciating, and rewarding work that too often falls upon women, you’ll demonstrate its significance and empower more women to pursue leadership roles.

Ensure job postings don’t alienate women

If salary is negotiable, say that in the job posting; this will increase the likelihood that women feel comfortable applying. Listing your corporate social responsibility initiatives can also help increase the number of diverse applicants. Showing you understand the nuance of employees’ lives will attract more women from the onset.

You don’t have to look hard for evidence of the benefits of hiring women in tech. But despite big promises, the industry has a long way to go in figuring out how to support women in tech. The key to changing this dynamic is to empower women not only to work for your company but also to lead it.


Kim Stearns is director of product management at Synapse Studios.

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