Text: Carman Chan
Carman Chan from Moving Talent shares her Nordic recruitment expertise.
As digitalisation and automation in the Nordics accelerate, the demand for high tech talent soars. Nonetheless, women are under-represented in this sector, where only 20% of tech positions in Denmark are filled by women1. The phenomenon can be traced back to early educational development. In Denmark, STEM education has the highest gender disparity, with only 33% of female bachelor entrants in 20182. A possible reason is a stereotypical perception that science and technology are suited and favoured by boys, which led to very few girls choosing a STEM degree.
Elena Hadzhihristova, Digital Product Owner at Carlsberg, who worked at Altapay, a Fintech company, where Moving Talent placed her, witnessed that the traditional mindset in study choice contributed to the gender imbalance in the industry. Throughout her tech career, she has always been in minority gender-wise.
The gender disparity causes work culture problems for women such as isolation, sexism, pay gap and few advancement opportunities. A Harvard Business Review’s research shows that 52% of women in STEM careers will leave the company if the work environment is hostile to women, and if the culture is not accommodating them.
The blunt reality is that Denmark is facing a talent shortage. The loss of a highly qualified female workforce creates a more significant gender disparity and a wider talent gap. Having a diversified workforce has several benefits. According to Andreea Hutu, a software engineer that we recruited for Persequor, a software development company, “a gender diverse team helps build empathy for the clients and the way a product will be used, since, after all, software is used by a gender-diverse clientele. She noted that different perspectives are beneficial in technological design and testing to make a product widely applicable. Elena adds that the different viewpoints and life experiences of men and women can bring collective intelligence, leading to more innovation, better financial impact and economic return for the company and the society.
“The blunt reality is that Denmark is facing a talent shortage. The loss of a highly qualified female workforce creates a more significant gender disparity and a wider talent gap.”
Higher participation of women in tech must be encouraged. Firstly, stereotypes and gender bias’s reasoning should be deconstructed. Andreea points out that the image of the lone ranger programmer no longer reflects today’s reality. Most tech roles nowadays require teamwork and customer-facing to find solutions in an agile and innovative manner. For example, teamwork is essential at Persequor, and Andreea finds it satisfying to develop technological solutions with other specialists. On the other hand, Elena perceived women’s soft skills as desirable competencies in many tech positions.
There are immense possibilities in tech career development, and opportunities are all around the world. Andreea mentions that “Tech is present everywhere, and there are a magnitude of opportunities for curious IT explorers”. With flexible work hours and financial independence, she considers that a tech career can fit a travelling life and family life. Elena also encourages women to pursue a tech career, as “the tech industry offers a wide range of positions, and not everything requires STEM”. Indeed, Elena does not have a STEM degree but made her way successfully in the tech industry.
Lastly, to build a gender-diverse team, a shift in corporate practices and cultures is vital to retain and advance tech women. Leaders should establish and communicate diversity efforts to understand the motives behind their actions and pay an active role in their implementation. An inclusive environment should be created, with flexibility, equal treatment and employee engagement, where everyone’s ideas are heard.