Women leaders still scarce in tech industry

The latest Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table reveals that only 11 of the 100 fastest-growing companies in the UK are founded or led by women. Insurer Hiscox has crunched the numbers to see what they reveal about opportunities for female leaders in the tech industry, and analysed some 750 tech, media and telecoms companies that appeared in the Tech Track 100 rankings over the past 15 years.

While there was an increase in the number of women in director roles, the average percentage of women in these roles remained under 10% over the same time period.

Looking at the data, one thing is clear, says Hiscox, the growth of women in senior roles in the tech industry is not significant enough. So why does this percentage remain so low?

A tough climb to the top

One theory for the lack of women in top tech roles is that they’re overlooked when promotional opportunities arrive. According to Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder and CEO for stemettes.org, an organisation that helps put girls in contact with women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries, the struggle to push past the 10% mark is down to a lack of promotions at more junior levels.

“[The number of women in director roles] has remained stable as women aren’t being promoted and given positions of responsibility in line with the proportion of women at more junior levels in the industry. As well as this, the number of women entering the tech industry has been declining in recent years,” said Imafidon.

So if Imafidon is right, when faced with a seeming reticence within the industry to promote women, it could be that fewer women take on the tough climb up the corporate ladder or choose to enter the industry at all.

In order to tackle the problem, Imafidon believes that biases within recruitment must first be ironed out.

“Tech companies need to make sure that they have the right processes for promotion and recruitment which mean that they don’t have bias. Having balanced promotion and interview panels, as well as employing the Rooney Rule – a concept from American football, where a panel interviews at least one minority candidate for senior roles – can help with this.”