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How Women Are Innovating and Shaping the Tech Landscape — and How Men Can Support Them The tech industry has a long history of being male-dominated, so it's no surprise that women are still underrepresented in tech. While there are trailblazing leaders changing this reality, it's long past time for everyone to get on board with elevating and supporting women in this industry.

By Barak Jacques Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Despite the tech industry's historic male domination, a rising wave of successful women is reshaping the sector. Encouraging this trend is vital; it promotes diversity, spurs innovation and inspires future female leaders. Acknowledging these women's achievements, offering support to aspiring females and dismantling systemic barriers are key to a balanced future in tech.

As we seek to create a more equitable future, it is essential to recognize and celebrate the achievements of these trailblazing women, provide resources and support for aspiring female tech professionals and address the systemic barriers that have hindered gender diversity in the industry.

Related: 5 Pieces of Advice for Women Trying to Navigate Male-Dominated Waters

The current landscape of women in tech

Statistics consistently reveal the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry. For instance, women hold only 28% of computing and mathematical jobs in the U.S. as of 2022, with even lower numbers at the executive level. These disparities exist for various reasons, including prevailing gender stereotypes, unconscious biases and systemic barriers that impede women's progress in the field.

Despite comprising 47% of the U.S. workforce and 74% of young girls expressing interest in STEM fields, women represent only 28% of the tech industry workforce, as per 2022 statistics. This underscores the systemic issues and biases that curtail women's progress in tech, thereby stifling industry innovation. The positive impact of gender diversity on technology and innovation is well-documented. Research suggests that diverse gender representation boosts innovation and financial success in companies, making the inclusion of women in tech crucial for industry prosperity.

Trailblazing women in tech: Profiles and achievements

Numerous women have made significant contributions to the tech industry. Among them, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, is particularly notable for challenging norms and inspiring others. Her best-selling book, Lean In, encourages women to pursue their ambitions and defy societal expectations.

Another notable figure is Ginni Rometty, IBM's first female CEO from 2012 to 2020. Under her leadership, IBM shifted its focus to cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, driving its innovation and growth.

Fei-Fei Li, a renowned artificial intelligence researcher and professor at Stanford University, has also made visionary contributions to AI. As the co-founder of AI4ALL, she actively works to increase diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence by providing educational opportunities to underrepresented groups.

These women represent just a pinch of the many female pioneers who have impacted the industry and continue to inspire others through their achievements. But we must recall that the job is still far from being done.

Related: Why Gender Diversity In Tech Matters

Initiatives and programs supporting women in tech

Groups like Girls Who Code, Women in Technology International and the National Center for Women and Information Technology promote gender diversity in tech through mentorship, scholarships and networking opportunities. Women's inclusion in tech is crucial for innovation, especially during days of advancements like GPT-4. These groups play a crucial role in tackling the underrepresentation of women in tech, providing resources and guidance that empower them to thrive. They also help dismantle stereotypes and biases impeding women's advancement.

Female-founded startups: A silver lining

It's not all doom and gloom. In fact, the tech industry has witnessed a heartening shift in women's representation in recent years, with the percentage of female-founded startups rising from 9.5% in 2014 to 21.6% in 2021. This impressive growth marks a new chapter of women shattering barriers and spearheading innovative ventures, a testament to their determination and resilience in overcoming challenges. However, the decline in these numbers from 2021 to 2023 underlines the need to persistently champion gender diversity and foster inclusivity.

Nurturing gender equality in tech entrepreneurship

As a male entrepreneur operating in the tech sector, I recognize the importance of my role in challenging prevailing biases and working toward gender equality. My experiences have taught me that, as leaders, we have the power and responsibility to create a shift toward more inclusive and equitable workplaces.

Here are my insights and suggestions for my fellow entrepreneurs:

Firstly, prioritize and value diversity, particularly by actively including more women in your teams. It's well-documented that diverse groups, especially those with a good balance of men and women, bring rich perspectives that fuel innovation. Actively advocating for diversity, specifically gender diversity, can also lead to tangible benefits for your company. Studies have demonstrated that diverse teams are more effective at problem-solving and making better decisions. So, consciously foster diversity in your team, ensuring that every voice is heard and valued.

Secondly, prioritize establishing a nurturing work environment — the transition from merely being a boss to taking on the role of a mentor. Try to share your experiences, extend guidance and offer support when needed. Studies have shown that such an environment not only fosters trust but also boosts your team members' satisfaction and empowerment levels, thereby leading to increased productivity and company growth.

Thirdly, foster a culture of open dialogue and ensure that your team members can freely express their views and concerns. According to a recent 2020 study, creating an environment conducive to open dialogue significantly increases women's chances of being promoted at work. This transparent communication culture addresses gender-related issues effectively and enhances the potential for women to rise to managerial positions. In essence, a listening environment can amplify the effectiveness of many strategies to enable women to attain leadership roles by facilitating open discussions at all organizational levels.

Lastly, embody your principles through action. Demonstrate your commitment to gender equality through your decisions and daily interactions. Influence fellow entrepreneurs to adopt similar measures, and together, let's echo the message of equality and inclusion across the tech industry.

Related: 70% of Male Leaders Believe This Industry Is Inclusive — But Most Female Leaders Disagree.

Envisioning a future with equal representation

As male leaders in tech, our influence on gender equality is substantial. We must strive towards a balanced future by fostering diversity, establishing supportive environments and encouraging open dialogue. We all have mothers, sisters, daughters or wives we deeply care for. We should foster a world where their accomplishments are determined by talent, not gender. It's our shared duty to challenge norms, tackle biases and promote equality in tech, enabling them to break barriers and pave the way for a gender-neutral future.

Barak Jacques

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of Keek Ai, Serial Entrepreneur, Author and Investor

Barak Jacques is an entrepreneur, author and podcaster. He is the CEO and founder of the fashion brand Socks & Co. and co-founder of Keek Ai, a world-leading Ai-based social media management platform. He's the author of "No Entrepreneurs In Heaven" and host of "Entrepreneurs' Secret Garden" podcast.

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