Women In Comms

Women in Tech Coming Into Focus

It's a good time to be a woman in technology, but also a challenging time.

Reading the headlines, seeing the statistics and hearing about the lawsuits and discrimination can make anyone feel pretty dismal about being a women in the technology industry, but the good news is there is progress being made -- and, at the least, the industry as a whole has stopped pretending gender imbalance is not a problem and started talking about what can be done.

This month, which also happens to be Women's History Month, has seen a number of telecom service providers rising to the challenge of making redressing the gender balance in our industry a priority. Chief among them is Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), which is instituting a mandatory minimum maternity leave policy that is one of the most progressive I've seen. The carrier said that across its 30 global operating companies, women will get 16 weeks paid maternity leave, as well as full pay for a 30-hour work week for the first six months after they return to work.

And, wouldn't you know, doing so might even save them money. A KPMG International study they commissioned indicated that global businesses could save around $19 billion annually by offering 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, because the cost of recruiting and training new employees to replace women who don't come back can be upwards of $47 billion per year. Giving them four months off at a cost of around $28 billion per year still saves a company money and makes it more likely women return to the workforce.

Given that a Center for Talent Innovation study found that women in science, engineering and technology are 45% more likely than men to leave the industry within the year, incentivizing them to come back should be an important priority for service providers.

Read more about women in the technology industry on our business and employment content channel here on Light Reading.

Vodafone is just one example. This month alone, we've also seen High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) appoint a woman, co-founder Cher Wang, as CEO to replace Peter Chou; women at SXSW dominated headlines (including one most excellent call out during a panel on diversity with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt), and Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao is -- for better or worse -- bringing visibility to the issue with a lawsuit against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield, for gender discrimination.

There is still so much work to be done, which is a theme that has come up at Light Reading's three recent Women in Telecom (now Women in Tech) breakfast events.(See Women in Telecom: Collaboration Critical to New IP, Pics: Women in Telecom Take London, New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide, Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap, Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast and The New IP Live!)

Women bring unique skill sets to the table that mesh well with how technology is changing. They think differently, and as Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR) CEO Maggie Wilderotter best put it in a press release highlighting her company's efforts to promote women, "Diversity brings out the best in decision-making."

More women need to be in tech, stay in tech and occupy senior level positions, especially those with a profit-and-loss line associated with them.

Even with all the negativity, it's still a good thing women's issues are getting more visibility -- something we'd like to do more of on the digital pages of Light Reading as well. The atmosphere is changing in the tech industry. Women aren't keeping quiet anymore, and it's a trend that should go on long past Women's History Month.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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pcharles09 3/30/2015 | 7:42:53 PM
Re: Women in Tech @Mitch W,

Exactly my point. I guess this is their way to ensure that doesn't happen. Keeping employees on their toes/A game.
Ariella 3/26/2015 | 7:32:20 PM
Re: Women in Tech @Mendyk In truth, women are still very much in the minority in both finance and IT. There are women in the company, but most of them are PAs or work in HR. And, yes, it is more relaxed in the European place, but the salaries and bonuses are considerably lower. When I say considerably, I don't just mean 10% but 30-40% lower for salaries and even more for bonuses. 
mendyk 3/26/2015 | 7:29:18 PM
Re: Women in Tech My original point -- which was pretzeled by one poster with an apparent shoulder chip -- is that our systems are based first and foremost on the idea that we (or 99% of us) must work to earn a living. A century from now, this may be different, especially if automation essentially wipes out the need for human employment. For now, though, we're all pretty much in the same boat. As for your personal experience, I'm sure that a relaxed environment makes for less stressed and happier employees, regardless of their gender.
Ariella 3/26/2015 | 7:19:02 PM
Re: Women in Tech @mendyK In general, Europeans have a lighter work schedule with a shorter week and longer vacations than their American counterparts.  When my husband shifted from a one bank to another, he noticed that the one with a European base was much more relaxed as far as people not coming in as early or staying as late. But it also was rather relaxed as far as technology, not at all cutting edge.
melao2 3/26/2015 | 1:13:27 PM
Re: Women in Tech There is a reason why women are more necessary to have leave, it is called breast feeding. Honestly 4 months is not enough. In my country the maternity leave is 6 months and I consider it to be too low because of breastfeeding.

The leave should follow the recommendation of the minimum breastfeeding time.

And I am just talking about phisiological reasons, without going to any family/social reasons.


So yes 4 months is not enough. The market should accomodate more than that.
Mitch Wagner 3/26/2015 | 11:11:42 AM
Re: Women in Tech Nobody's irreplacable except for those who own the company. Anybody who thinks otherwise will learn their error the hard way. 
sineira 3/25/2015 | 5:14:21 PM
Re: Women in Tech Agreed, high def is not for everyone. Some get so stuck in their ideologies they can't see clearly.

Anybody stating they would not give Europe and credit in the field of social contract is somewhat lost in ideology or perhaps not understanding what it means. Hence my feeble attempt at an insult.
mendyk 3/25/2015 | 5:07:19 PM
Re: Women in Tech Maybe not everyone is fortunate enough to see the world in crystal-clear, high-definition black and white. "Clear as mud" is the best way to sum things up, though I'm guessing that wasn't what you had in mind with your attempted insult.
sineira 3/25/2015 | 5:02:55 PM
Re: Women in Tech None of the above. Clear as mud.Is it one of those countries perhaps where the social contract is no social contract, everybody for themselves. Those utopias?
mendyk 3/25/2015 | 5:00:40 PM
Re: Women in Tech You don't know me, so I don't know how you would presume to know what I think. But the short answer to your supposed question is, None of the above.
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