Why Do We Need More Women in IT? And How to Make that Happen

Katarzyna Tatomir-Rebeś

Women in IT - Why do we need them

Having more women in IT is not part of filling a quota. It’s about an inclusive strategy that brings benefits to a company and its team. What kind of benefits, you ask? I'll share with you the changes I've seen in my 11 years in the IT industry.

I’m glad that we can openly discuss the lack of women in IT. For me, the most important part is educating your teams on why this is a problem and why we should make a change. We need more diversity in IT and to do that, we must be more inclusive.

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Welcoming More Women Will Help the Ones Currently on Your Team

From my experience, I felt better when another woman joined the team. In the beginning, I was the only female developer, not only in the room but the whole company. It was really nice when Kamila Straus joined as a developer. I wasn’t alone, I had a better sense of belonging. I felt someone had my back. When a team is better constructed, it will support each other even more.

When you have someone else from your gender in the crowd, you'll feel more comfortable and therefore more eager to go to your workplace. I felt I had someone that could understand my struggles a bit more.

I usually felt that male programmers find easy and quick solutions, while I think about them from many angles and several things at the same time. It’s hard for me to explain that to men, but women have understood my line of thought better.

Build women’s confidence by having other women

When I was studying IT at University, there were 5-7 girls in the whole program—less than 1%. I always felt I was looked down on. Because I never asked the same questions as my classmates in IT did, nor had the same experience they did, I felt bad and not enough.

I needed help from a tutor for certain exams. If I could have had help from another woman I would have saved myself from some really awkward situations, and definitely felt more comfortable. Feeling that I’m one of the few women there and that I also needed tutoring made me feel that perhaps I didn’t belong there. I didn’t know as much.

A Diverse Workplace Will Make Your Services and Products Better

Women will think about specific cases of inclusiveness, they can bring more to the table since they represent another part of the population. For example, a woman will be thinking about adding a menstrual cycle feature into a health app that a man might not take into account when planning it, or introduce a better way to market to women.

Diversity and inclusion talks will make your product design better. Our Senior Product Designer gave a presentation on diversity in design. When you build a new product, you have to take a lot of things into consideration, their market might be completely different - UX audits and research are important.

What I love about Monterail is that Diversity & Inclusion aren’t just words. For years we’ve been working towards employing more women, people from other countries or shifting to IT. I'm very happy that I can tell my 19 year old daughter that at Monterail we have great, capable and ambitious women in every role. 4 Out of 5 designers and 3 Head positions are occupied by phenomenal women. I love working in a company that can set an example.

pawel-hawrylak PawełHawrylak SeniorProduct
at Monterail

Furthermore, a study published by Harvard Kennedy School shows that teams with lower percentages of women have lower sales and lower profits than teams with a balanced gender mix. With more diversity in your team, there’ll be more insights and perspectives to improve the vision and path your service and product will take. Inclusive growth is your company’s choice.

We need more women role models in IT for girls

While growing up, I didn’t know about Grace Hopper or Anita Borg, no one teaches you about them or other top women in tech at school. Only about Marie-Curie and that’s basically it. Looking at tech moguls, it’s mostly men. As a girl, you usually look at what your mom does and want to repeat that. I was lucky, my mom was bold.

But I didn’t have other role models, most of them were housewives. To grow and get out of your comfort zone, you need someone to look up to. It should also be good to have more female teachers - they can struggle with being a respected authority figure, like the one I had in Uni - whose students didn’t take her seriously.

Once I finally had a subject that clicked in my studies (Ruby on Rails development) I knew my path. I’m currently a COO. I’ve learned a lot. Being a COO will hopefully inspire others to join, knowing that they can do it too. Or maybe by only giving them the idea that they have this opportunity as well. Some girls went out there and became top women, if this could become a more-seen trend, it would be fantastic.

As an example, once upon a time, a few women broke through and entered the theatre world, which wasn’t common at the beginning of this new entertainment industry. It started to become more popular, to see women there, and more women wanted to join it - and they did. The same goes for IT. The more women there are, the more it will attract, it will start being more popular and less “for-men” categorized.

IT and development companies need more talent

Businesses are finding it hard to find talent and fill all their opening positions. In fact, in a recent ebook we published, “HR tech in 2020” we mention that the most burning issue that companies encounter nowadays is the struggle with recruitment. If companies already find it difficult to find talent, creating inclusive environments and encouraging women to apply is a smart move for the future of their talent resources.

At Monterail, we hire employees based on their experience and skills. Unfortunately, the IT industry is still heavily dominated by men and the narrative of the media and culture over the years strengthened the stereotype that technical positions are suitable for men. This is slowly changing, but we still have a long way to go. At Monterail, we try to change this narrative.

dominika-dudek Dominika Dudek HR Specialist
at Monterail

At the end of 2020, we took part in the Dare IT program, which supports the entry of women into the IT job market or helps them change their businesses. Among our employees, there are many female mentors who share their experiences and stories of the way they have gone to be in the place where they are now. I think that at the moment it is very important to build awareness among women that the IT industry is for them and that they have competence and opportunities to fulfill themselves in it.

Start the conversation about inclusiveness

Do not avoid the topic, do not be afraid to take a stand - sometimes people believe that business is business and it shouldn’t get involved in anything that is not strictly business-related. This is very short-sighted, as everything is connected (business, private life, politics, religion, etc.) and nothing exists in a vacuum. It’s always better to be a part of the change and try to influence the masses to make a positive impact.

Have an inclusive strategy in recruitment

At Monterail, we do this by using gender-neutral language in job advertisements, including diversity in our job ads photos, showing women as specialists. We also try to reach diversified sources of candidates.

In addition, technical people who take part in recruitment are trained to eliminate unconscious bias. The recruitment process itself is arranged in a way that eliminates biases. Constant dripping wears away a stone. The more we talk about women in IT and indicate their agency and competencies, and additionally care for the organization’s culture that includes the voice of women, the more female candidates will want to apply for IT positions.

Keep in mind your goals during recruitment

We also need to create opportunities for those that had fewer chances to build their experience. We started a bootcamp to share knowledge and train people interested in becoming a developer. As businesses we should also create opportunities for that, maybe one day we’ll also create a girl-only camp or event.

During recruitment, we always have a woman present so that the female candidates are more comfortable. Having women in your company will attract more women. This is how it works in recruitment. When they see more women, they feel comfier.

Create opportunities for new talent to join

We were very pleased and positively surprised that on our Ruby on Rails 2021 bootcamp recruitment, more women joined than men. This result was awesome and totally unplanned. Our goal is to try and have an even result, however, it isn't something that leads us in recruitment. To be honest, especially in this edition - this ratio just happened.

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Katarzyna Tatomir-Rebeś avatar
Katarzyna Tatomir-Rebeś