When I first heard about International Women’s Day (IWD), a few years ago now, I have to say, I wasn’t supportive. It all felt a bit meaningless, a PR stunt. And guess what, I’m not sure my view has changed.
It seems to be something that a lot of companies want to be seen to be participating in, and celebrating, but does it make a tangible difference or is it a single point in time to state your allegiances, without changing long-term behaviours or positions? After all, it’s great to put out a statement or press release that a company supports International Women’s Day and is doing some activities, but in many companies, board members continue to be majority male. How do you ensure a consistent message and a consistent drive to #breakthebias?
I have worked in technology for over 20 years, and have written several articles and blogs regarding Women in Technology, which are always the same – “Why are there not more Women?”. One hopes that with the COVID pandemic, hybrid working and homeworking have come to the fore and that the benefit for the primary caregiver for workers with children (usually, but not always the woman), will be the presentation of a more flexible working life, which provides more opportunities for women to enter or return to the workforce. But I guess the question remains – how do you encourage women of any age to work in technology? From programming to engineering to management – there is a wealth of diverse opportunities for women in technology, yet it’s still very much seen as a “man’s world” and dare I say, “geeky” or “nerdy”. GSCE computer science doesn’t help. Mostly taught by male teachers (in an occupation where women outnumber men!), and, in 2020, the number of girls choosing to study computer science GCSE was 16,919 – just over 21.4% of total entrants – compared with 61,540 boys. With so few women in technology to inspire the younger generation, how can this change?
Here in Peru, we have a permanent workforce of 34 staff. As a technology consultancy, we are already breaking the bias as just over 32% of our workforce are women – almost double the national trend. Whilst almost 50% of the female workforce occupy senior roles, Peru, like many organisations, faces the challenge of balance, particularly on the board, and is actively discussing how this can be addressed. We are promoting several policies that support women in the workplace – maternity, homeworking, and something new to many organisations, a menopause policy. However, the challenge is getting women to apply for roles – with the bias starting from school age, how do we move forward?
Peru has the benefit of being small, being communicative and being open to change, actively working on diversity and inclusion. No topic is off-limits. No challenge is too big and we are working, together, to look at how we can #breakthebias. This isn’t something that is restricted to an issue for the women of Peru to resolve. This is something we are ALL looking at. We don’t have the answers, but we have started talking and I hope that International Women’s Day 2023, will be a very different message.
 Key UK Education Statistics – BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association)
 The Guardian – Why aren’t more girls in the UK choosing to study computing and technology?