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New report: women in tech need to catch up on experience

Women in tech can often lose years of experience when they take time off from their careers to raise a family/Photo by CoWomen
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A new report has found that women in tech are lacking in experience compared to their male counterparts. We share tips on how they can make up the gap, gain more experience and accelerate to senior management positions

New research findings have found that women in tech have an average of almost 3 years less experience than their male counterparts, a disparity that may not only impacts their chances of progression but also restricts their access to senior and leadership roles.

The data was compiled by Anderson Frank, a Tenth Revolution Group company, to show that tangible career progress for women in tech “remains elusive”.

As it stands, just 26.7% of those in the US tech workforce are women. Research by Revolent shows that 87% of the top 500 companies led by female decision-makers last year reported above-average profits, compared to just 78% of companies without a female CEO.

Average Years Of Experience

“We know that women are under-represented at every level in tech, but what this new data really shows us is that there’s an experience gap at work for those women already in the sector,” says Anderson Frank Chairman and CEO James Lloyd-Townshend.

“With that gap at almost three years, it’s not difficult to see how this impacts progression and access to those more senior and leadership roles,” he says. “Not only are there fewer of those positions available, but male tech professionals effectively have a head start in terms of their experience in the sector,” says Lloyd-Townshend.

The CEO says the data is also a reminder that the conversation around inclusion has to be “more than just a discussion of the numerical gender balance at each level.”

“The numbers are important and we have to keep pushing towards equal access, but we also have to be exploring the question of progression and how training and development opportunities, and experience factor into that,” he says.

“It’s vital that women are able to enter the sector and that they’re able to progress within it. Experience is a massive part of that,” says Lloyd-Townshend.

If women in tech are missing years of experience it is often because they have taken time out to raise a family. That begs the question, what can they do to make up for the time lost to get their career back on track?

How women can accelerate to senior management positions after a career break:

  • Take on leadership roles in projects and teams. This is a great way to demonstrate your skills and abilities to senior management. Look for opportunities to lead projects, even if they are small or informal. However, only dedicate your time to projects that will benefit your skills gap; not time wasters. You can also volunteer to take on leadership roles in your company’s employee resource group or other organisations. This can help you specialise and make a name for yourself in the industry.
  • Get involved in mentoring and coaching programmes. This is an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with others, and it can also help you build relationships with senior leaders. Look for mentoring and coaching programmes that are designed for women in tech.
  • Become a panel speaker at conferences. Taking part in industry panel sessions is a way to increase your profile in your industry. It also raises your game with the trade press. Consider taking a course in public speaking or media training so that you have the skills to express your ideas and insights in a clear and concise way that also resonates with your audience.
  • Network with other women in tech. Attending certain events can expose you to new opportunities and build relationships with people who can help you advance your career. You may even find other women who are looking to branch out and start their own tech business or consultancy, which might suit your talents and fast-track your career progression by being your own boss.
  • Seek out stretch assignments. These are assignments that will challenge you and help you develop new skills. Stretch assignments can be a great way to get noticed by senior management.
  • Be patient and persistent. It takes time and effort to advance to senior management positions. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Keep learning, growing, and taking on new challenges, not just for your employers, but in all areas of your life.

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