I bid you welcome to the month of March. For a number of reasons, one of which is the celebration of International Women’s Day, March is pretty much special all around. First commemorated by suffragettes in the early 1900s, this global holiday, observed every March 8, is as relevant as it was back then.
The International Women’s Day is held to celebrate women’s success and part in political, cultural, social, and economic development. While the issue of gender equality is given some attention, the concept is still far from being a reality. How so?
According to the 2020 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report, there’s a widening gender gap in economic opportunity, education, health, and political empowerment. Sadly, the report projects that bridging the gap will take more than 99.5 years. If you are already above 20 years, economic gender parity would probably not occur in your lifetime.
Rather than get depressed over this prediction, we can definitely do something to speed up that clock. What’s more, this year’s International Women’s Day tagged #ChooseToChallenge affords us the opportunity to promote gender quality, especially in the workplace.
Even though women are and have been disrupting the status quo in the tech industry, there’s still a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion. Fittingly, this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge implores all to call out gender bias and inequality as well as choose to observe and celebrate women’s achievement.
To that end, we’ve rounded up 10 ways you can, in advance of the International Women’s Day celebration, champion women in tech.
Celebrate women before and on the D-day
An obvious way to do this is by joining the #ChooseToChallenge campaign. Interestingly, individuals and organizations have been invited to send in their #ChooseToChallenge images to share with others from around the world in the days leading up to International Women’s Day 2021.
How to do this
You strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose with your hand high to show your commitment to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.
To learn more about submissions of photographs, size, and other details, click here. All gender identities welcome.
Support women-owned enterprises
As much as women entrepreneurs are enterprising, they have been left vulnerable due to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women entrepreneurs across the globe. You can show your support for promising women-owned businesses in various ways such as getting them referrals, patronizing them, and advertising their products on your social media among other things.
Invest in them
True, the existing funding gap in the tech industry is too wide to be ignored, but more efforts can be channeled towards creating funding opportunities for women. Now more than ever, women are demonstrating a high regard for risk-taking, innovativeness, individuality, and creativeness in entrepreneurship.
Why not take a chance on these ingenious, business-savvy women by investing in their ventures or recommending them to potential investors.
Speak up for gender equality
It’s not enough to think about gender equality; you must speak up and act it. Don’t be afraid to take your stand against non-inclusive or downright degrading behavior, even when you notice it above you in the leadership chain. However, calling out the perpetrator of this act should be done discreetly, but firmly.
Don’t hog the spotlight- share
Are you high up the leadership ladder with a lot to take charge of? No doubt you got far up there because of your competence and agility, yet great leaders have been known to delegate on occasions. For example, you could give someone- a capable woman- the chance to take the lead on some project or presentation. By doing so, you would be giving women leadership opportunities and visibility.
Find a protege
Much emphasis is placed on encouraging young girls to pursue STEM careers in order to promote female representation in tech. If you know any of such young ones who are interested in technology, you could provide her with resources, invite her to tech events, introduce her to other female role models and even suggest STEM-focused initiatives to her.
Why not consider nominating a woman or encourage a qualified colleague to apply if any industry awards or recognitions come up. What about internal company awards? Yes, that too! You could nominate a woman for the honor.
Form an inclusive interview panel
It is important to make applicants feel welcome and not have the feeling that their gender is a strike against them. If you are in a leadership position, you could make it a rule to always include at least one woman on every interview panel. This will convey the inclusive culture that exists in your organization.
If you are a female employee, don’t be afraid to indicate to your supervisors that you would be willing to help interview candidates.
Keep a gender-balanced mindset
Today, gender issues are very sensitive such that the best effort to show support might inadvertently come off as patronizing. Hence, both women and men might find it to remember that about 50% of the world’s population is female and the other 50% is male- a 50/50 mindset.
Far from ideal, the number of males may greatly outnumber females in your organization, yet you can sincerely show in word and deed that you value and appreciate women. It’s equally important to give women credit for a job well done whether they constitute the minority or not.
For this year’s International Women’s Day, we can all collectively choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. You could get started by working on the 9 suggestions we’ve compiled, after all, creating an inclusive tech sector involves every tech player, major or minor, including me.