Perspectives

Clearing skies for women in cloud

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

Time and again, studies have shown us the business benefits of gender diversity and a culture of inclusion. Companies need both to be successful: Diversity gives women a seat at the table, and inclusion gives them a voice there.

June 6, 2018

A blog post by Christina Bieniek, principal, US retail & distribution consulting leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP

The presence of women in leadership positions correlates with improved financial performance, team dynamics, and productivity.1 Technology teams that are more gender-diverse are better at solving problems, adhering to project schedules, and keeping project costs down.2

Despite these advantages, technology largely remains male-dominated. As of 2017, women comprised a mere 26 percent of employees in all computer and mathematical occupations in US companies.3 Clearly, we still have significant room for improvement after decades of discussion on gender parity in IT.

A multifaceted challenge

What accounts for this degree of underrepresentation among women? One answer may lie in the education system, where relatively few women earn technology-related degrees.4 Hiring practices are another area of concern: Research shows that hiring biases—both conscious and unconscious—can prevent newly degreed women technologists from being hired in IT.5

And then there are workplace barriers to both diversity and inclusion. Once hired, women in IT may feel isolated and sidelined by all-male networking events, inflexible work environments, and widespread pay disparities.6 Those who tough it out often struggle to advance. Female technologists say their top two barriers are the lack of female mentors and role models,7 which can result in exclusion from critical informal networks that could help them further their careers.

Taking action in the cloud space

These are significant challenges, which is why I was so proud to sponsor Deloitte’s “Women in Cloud” training event in Atlanta on May 3. More than 70 women gathered to learn what’s happening in the cloud space, engage in panel discussions, and connect with the men and women who guide our cloud practice.

The event emphasized our commitment to developing awareness and understanding of Deloitte’s cloud strategy and technology solutions, so these women can share this insight with our clients. But that’s not all. It also represented Deloitte’s investment in our firm’s bright, talented women leaders. Our aim is to build a professional network enriched by their diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives.

Closing the gender gap and creating a culture of inclusion takes sponsorship and mentorship from men and women alike. Through this latest initiative, we purposefully created an environment to help promote diversity, equality, and a real seat—and voice—at the table for women across the several practices of our organization.

Closing thoughts

We are at a point where virtually every company is a technology company, whether it wants to be or not. And cloud is a particularly complex area. It requires many capable people to understand and deliver cloud solutions, programs, tools, and services at the highest level of value.

I hope our Women in Cloud event inspires others to look for ways they can break down barriers within their own organizations. As for myself, I truly believe that with more diversity in the world of cloud, we will be able to reach new heights. The sky is the limit!

Endnotes

1 Lecia Barker, Cynthia Mancha, and Catherine Ashcraft, What is the impact of gender diversity on technology business performance?, National Center for Women in Information Technology, 2014, pp. 2–3.
2 Ibid; Susan Davis-Ali, Advancing women technologists into positions of leadership, Anita Borg Institute, 2017, p. 4.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Table 11: Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity,” Current Population Survey, Household Data Annual Averages 2017, 2018.
4 Catalyst, “Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),” January 3, 2018.
5 Multiple studies have found that both men and women are twice as likely to hire a man for an IT job than they are an equally qualified woman, according to Paul Lee and Duncan Stewart, “Women in IT jobs,” Deloitte TMT Predictions 2016, 2016.
6 A female web developer in the United States makes 79 cents on the dollar compared to a man, and a female information systems manager makes 87 cents on the dollar compared to a man, according to Lee and Stewart, “Women in IT jobs.”
7 ISACA, The future tech workforce: Breaking gender barriers, 2017.

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