Traditionally, a leap year signifies the only time when women are allowed to propose to men, on February 29th to be precise. An outdated notion, of course. Here at Synapse we are huge supporters of powerful women going out and getting what they want – every day of the year.
We buck a few gender trends ourselves in the office with a close to 50/50 gender split, pretty unusual in the male-dominated field of technology. We have an abundance of female engineers and general girls in charge and it’s to the credit of the company that being a woman in tech has never been an issue for me; I’ve never felt discriminated against or out of place here and especially not because of my gender.
We’re located in the Innovation Birmingham campus, a fantastic hub for technology start-ups in the city centre and I can’t say I’ve noticed any particular lack of women here either.
Despite my own Utopian experience, it’s hard to argue with the facts. Only 17% of the tech workforce in the UK is female and this is something we need to change. In part, it seems to be a pipeline issue. It certainly stems (if you’ll excuse the pun) from the lack of women in STEM – (science, technology, engineering and maths)-related study and job roles. This is an aversion which starts from a very young age; it’s an issue that will self-perpetuate unless something is done – the fewer women in tech means fewer women will see tech as an appealing career path.
Diversity is something we prize as a company – in a quick glance around the office I’ve counted seven nationalities, a c.45 year age range and as I mentioned, an awful lot of ladies. Especially as a small but fast-growing business, it is paramount for getting a broad range of opinions, out of the box thinking and creativity. Karla Monterroso is vice president of student programs at Code2040, a US-based non-profit aiming to improve racial representation in tech. She says that “companies that have ethnic and racial diversity perform 35 percent greater than those that do not”. This rings true here, we see our variety as a huge advantage and integral to our success.
Initiatives such as Monster.co.uk’s Tech Talent Charter – the aim of which is “to take positive action to increase this ratio of women working in tech to reflect the makeup of the UK population” are fantastic, implementing for example the Rooney rule which means interviewing at least one woman as part of the recruitment process.
Whilst I know I’m lucky to work in such a balanced environment, it certainly sounds like the rest of the tech world is on its way to catching up. It’s my hope – and strong belief – that 2016 will be a huge year for women in the sector.