Women are inadequately represented in IT executive positions, and the role of a chief technology officer (CTO) is no exception.
According to the latest Gartner research, only 9% of enterprises have a female CTO. In comparison, the number of female chief information officer (CIO) is at 14%, and chief data officers (CDO) is at 16%.
The ratio of men and women at top business executive roles has been disproportional for years. Research firm Catalyst reveals women contribute to just under half of the workforce and comprise only 25% of senior executive positions at public companies in the United States. Diversity is a key factor that contributes to a company’s performance. Companies need to have gender-diverse technology teams as it has the potential to produce more deliverables with minimum errors and shows higher levels of innovation, found the report.
The majority of the IT sector continues to lag in terms of gender diversity, especially for CTO roles as compared to other IT leadership positions. One of the main factors contributing to the CTO gender gap is to know why the role of a CTO is perceived as less exciting for women. Female executives looking forward to pursuing the CTO career path need to understand what they can do to prepare and position themselves for the role.
IT leaders can take a couple of measures to address the CTO gender gap. Generally, CTOs are promoted internally from a technical position or they are hired externally from different roles including CIOs, or senior IT executives. Women comprise a small percentage in such high executive positions.
To get women into senior IT roles, leaders need to make sure enough women are recruited at entry-level positions. Secondly, enterprises should alter entry as well as mid-level technology job descriptions to attract more women into those roles, says the report. It is time for organizations to look beyond tech talent instead of just focusing on male-dominated computer science degree programs. A wholesome gender-diverse entry-level talent is possible in case of programs including mathematics, physical sciences, and business. The role of a CTO has evolved over the years and has reached a place where it requires additional focus on business value, leadership, and people skills. In the end, experience in a particular field will have a greater value than academic qualifications.
Another issue that has a significant impact on diversity in the IT workforce is retention as women in technology jobs quit their careers at more than twice the rate as compared to their male counterparts, as per the report. If a smaller percentage of women are there in middle management, the number of women who eventually gain the qualifications for CTO roles will also be fewer. Senior tech leaders need to focus on increasing the number of women who reach the highest levels of IT.
The report mentions that approximately 41% of women in today’s technology workforce leave their careers over time because of a non-inclusive work environment. When it comes to innovation in technology, IT leaders must seek diversity in gender, personality, and experience. A strategic investment in gender-diverse roles will benefit organizations in the long run as IT leaders of all genders and diverse backgrounds gain skills to succeed as CTOs.