One might expect this to be some sort of sexist rant against women, like why they make terrible managers. Some people will tell you their worst professional experiences share one thing in common: They reported to a female boss.
Some feel that if you talk to most guys (and frankly, normal women) they’ll say the same thing: Working for a woman (or in a workplace composed mainly of women) is a spiral into a dark pit of back-biting, lies, envy, intrigue, subterfuge, manipulation and unnecessary drama.
The above reasons are simply are not true. The sad fact is that even if you wanted to (and why not?) you may never work for a woman because they simply aren’t present in large numbers in terms of senior management roles in both large companies, or even venture backed start-ups for that matter.
That is that only 30% of workers in the tech industry are women.
And even fewer in leadership and technical roles.
Consider the percentage of women working in various capacities at leading tech companies versus US Census data that shows women make up 59% of the US labor Force and 51% of the US population. So what is at the root of this problem?
“The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem,” says Virginia Clarke (left) – a recruiter at executive search firm Talent Optimization Partners. “The problem is that the culture is obviously consciously or unconsciously exclusive, and people are exhibiting chronic behaviors that keep women- and likely people of color- out or not moving up.”
Twitter went as far as tweeting, “We’re committing to a more diverse Twitter,” in August of 2015, and set its diversity goals for 2016. Fortune reported last year, “Google’s workplace diversity has a long way to go.”
As the article states, “Acknowledging a problem may be the first step in fixing it, but that might be all Google has been able to do about its lack of diversity.”
Sometimes it looks like senior management at these tech giants are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to diversity.
A couple of years ago at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Phoenix, AZ, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said women in the tech industry should trust in karma instead of making a case for a raise.
“It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,” Nadella said.
There were 7,500 female engineers from around the world in attendance at the conference.
The good news is that there are some outstanding examples of women-run tech companies. These founders and CEOs are thinking deeply about how to pave the way for other women in the tech sector.
Tiffany Pham, Founder and CEO, MOGUL
Mogul is an award-winning technology platform that enables women to share ideas, solicit advice, and access content based on their personal interests.
The secret to MOGUL’s success? In order to impress investors, Pham said, she taught herself to code so that she could fully build the platform in advance of fundraising. “Then, when we launched, we launched to about a million unique users, and I was able to subsequently let our numbers speak for themselves.”
Pham continued, “We understand our users: female millennials. As a female-led company, we understand our own needs and thus our users’ needs.”
Alicia Navarro, Co-Founder and CEO, Skimlinks
Skimlinks lets publishers track clicks and purchases that from links on their website. Navarro points out that while there are efforts to get more women into computer science (such as Girls Who Code) it’s also important to teach women that they can use these skills in more than one way, including in management.
“If we want more women in management roles, encourage more women into technology in schools, and demonstrate that being in technology does not only mean you’ll be a coder all your career,” she said, adding that there are many, “Creative, international, dynamic careers that perhaps young women aren’t aware are possibilities when they are deciding their vocational futures.”
This approach to business has paid handsome dividends as Skimlinks says its affiliated linking technology drove $625+ million in e-commerce sales last year for over 20,000 vendors.
Cheryl Rosner, Co-Founder and CEO, Stayful
Stayful is a site for travelers to find, book, and negotiate prices for boutique and independent hotel rooms at negotiated discounts. The business model was developed based on Rosner’s experience working at travel companies like Hotels.com and frustrations with the hotel industry that seem to be plentiful.
Rosner credits her ability to thrive as a woman founder and CEO in part to a supportive team of investors and advisors.
“If you want to help other women succeed,” she said, “Be a mentor and take an active role in supporting people with potential to help them achieve leadership roles. It takes effort and sometimes courage to speak up and be heard. We just need to keep at it until one day it will no longer be a topic of conversation.”
The Benefits of Working for a Woman
If one is lucky enough to work for a woman, it will be great because women tend to be nurturing leaders, better engaged, good at multi-tasking and are thoughtful about avoiding unnecessary risks.
They also tend to be more supportive of work-life balance and have been proven to provide superior operating returns, according to Fortune.