February 14, 2019 | by Jon Fletcher

The tech industry has a gender imbalance—but it’s changing from within

How women are deciding the future of the Barcelona startup scene

It is no secret that there is a heavy gender imbalance in startups and STEM fields. Tech companies have always had a problem attracting a diverse range of employees and hiring the same type of people tends to lead to the same kinds of idea.

Tech companies need to be more proactive in their efforts to create a diverse working environment. Addressing the traditional hiring processes and team dynamics will help to foster greater equality and the increased creativity delivered from a diverse and representative team.

An imbalanced industry

Currently, only 20% of Google employees are female, and this low ratio is fairly consistent across the tech industries in Europe and America. There are social and cultural issues— within the tech industry specifically—that help to make it a male-dominated industry.

And, be assured, this imbalance is specific to the tech industry. It is not in step with any other general inequality between genders. Paradoxically, countries that rank lower down in measures of gender equality tend to have a higher proportion of women pursuing STEM careers than countries with a better record regarding gender equality.

But, due to the actions of groups promoting education and proactive equality approaches from tech companies, this is changing.

Proactive change

The number of female-founded startups in Spain has risen to 22%, up from just 17% in 2017. In addition, the startups led by women have a lower failure rate than men, just 22% compared with 51% of projects that are lead by men.

In a study conducted by the University de Mancha in Castilla, Spain, gender diverse R&D teams lead to better creativity and better decisions. In addition, businesses with women in the executive team also receive higher valuations, 64% higher at first funding and 49% at the final funding.

These changes are not happening organically. They are due to the efforts of Barcelona companies and organizations that are working proactively to offer better access to development skills and career opportunities, in order to encourage greater gender equality in tech

AllWomen.tech

To discover more about how Spain is developing gender inclusivity in technical roles, and the impact that more women in tech roles are having on the industry, we spoke to AllWomen.tech. A women-only academy, designed to help women join the Barcelona tech scene.

Founder, Laura Fernandez Gimenez shared her experiences of the efforts being made in Barcelona to encourage more women into tech roles.
Laura allwomen.tech

‘Tech is shaping our future, and we are ready to take the lead in creating it. It’s time to give space for tech designed by all and for all. We don’t settle for one-size-fits-all solutions, so we make space for what’s non-binary and all of its transformations along the way. ’

Speaking on the conditions that prevent women from filling these roles, Giminez explained one of the causes of the imbalance can be traced back to something as simple as initial access,

‘As personal computers became popular, they were marketed towards men. Women were not expected to use them or show an interest.’

The generation that first became computer literate then became the first wave of the tech workforce.

‘We’re seeing the delayed effects of social conditioning and stereotyping. For a woman, trying to join a male-only industry, company, or department, it can be daunting’.

To some, the tech and start-ups scenes have been viewed as an extension of ‘Bro-culture’. But, this model is being eroded. The rise of tech-based companies in Barcelona has created a need to hire ever more talented people.

‘In Barcelona, there are more tech companies so there are more opportunities. Seeing other women doing things we are expected not to do gives you the strength to believe you can do it, too.”

In Barcelona, groups such as Allwomen.tech, Women in Mobile, and Women Who Code are providing courses, boot camps, hackathons, and support to women looking to develop skills and experience for a tech career. These are female-led, female orientated groups that aim to develop entrepreneurship.

Due to communities like these, the skills required to get tech roles are more accessible than ever. There are shorter courses that can be learned alongside other careers or studies. Communities and the events they create make the world of tech more open and accessible, but this also needs to be transferred to companies hiring for tech roles. There are ways to ensure that your vacant roles attract more female applicants.

‘Create a culture that’s attractive to women. Recognize and promote the existing female potential in the company. It is possible that through blogs, testimonials, and social ads’,

‘Wait to receive similar numbers of male and female CVs before reviewing applications’ and ‘consider creating job listings that are more positioned toward women. Women will, on average, apply to roles where they meet 90% of the requirements’,

Men are generally more speculative, applying when they meet just 40% of the required criteria. If women aren’t applying for roles, consider amending the description. Words such as aggressive, analytical, expert, and assertive can sound like standard description terms—but have been shown to make roles less appealing to women.

These changes may seem minor, but they can have a major impact. Even major corporations are discovering unseen gender biases. Amazon’s recruitment AI was recently shut down after it developed a gender bias due to being predominantly trained on men’s CV’s.

How Marfeel is investing in employees and company culture

In addition to independent groups, the companies of Barcelona are also working attract more talented women into tech roles.

We also spoke our own HR head at Marfeel, Paola Vallejo, responsible for making sure that we are able to attract the best candidates and do what we can to make our opportunities open and available to anyone.

Paola told us that Marfeel has been helping to host events with WomenWhoCode, for their PeerLabs events, where women are given the chance to share their projects, source ideas, and solve issues with other tech-orientated people.

‘We also hosted their second-anniversary party. Collaborating with a community like this puts us in contact with lots of talented people’,

Marfeel is proud to do help encourage more people to share and develop their skills. Working alongside WomenWhoCode, is a natural part of our role as a technology-first company, and part of the community in Barcelona.
Women who code

So far, the tech community has underserved women. The efforts of the Barcelona community are working to address this imbalance and feel the force of the next wave of entrepreneurs and tech leaders

If you want to be part of an industry-leading development team, Marfeel has open positions for talented people. Apply today