In honour of International Women’s Day 2022, we’re taking a stand for women in tech. Women are still hugely underrepresented in the tech workforce. And that needs to change. Find out how women at TOPdesk feel about gender diversity and how we can contribute to bridging tech’s gender gap.

Tech's gender gap

Women in tech are scarce. In 2021, only 25% of the US tech workforce were women, even though women overall represented nearly half of the total US workforce. Women of color make up even less of the tech workforce: just 3% of computing-related jobs are held by Black women, for example.

Trans women and non-binary people in tech are even harder to find: in fact, a 2021 TrustRadius Women In Tech report didn’t even have enough non-binary respondents to make any definitive conclusions about their representation in tech.

The few women who do work in tech face obstacles daily: according to TrustRadius, 72% of women in tech are regularly outnumbered by men in business meetings, with some women reporting being outnumbered by a 5:1 ratio. And even more women, a staggering 78% percent, feel they have to work harder than their male coworkers to prove their worth.

But women in tech have to deal with more than “glass ceilings”: their main concern seems to be “the broken rung” on their career ladder. This term, coined following a five-year study by McKinsey & Company and Sheryl Sandberg through LeanIn.org, explains how women in entry-level tech jobs are less likely to be promoted to the first level of management.

This, in turn, limits the number of women available for promotion into higher levels of management – and is why most tech executive teams are still made up of the same white men. Unsurprisingly, women of color, trans women and non-binary people are even less likely to be promoted in tech.

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Gender diversity at TOPdesk

Obviously, TOPdesk is no exception when it comes to these issues. So, let’s hear from the women at TOPdesk: how do they experience gender diversity at TOPdesk?

Marloes Meijer works at the TOPdesk headquarters in Delft, the Netherlands. Although her development team is equally made up of men and women, the department that Marloes works in is less diverse:

“When I tell people 50% of the developers in my team are women, they are usually shocked. At TOPdesk, such balance isn’t that unusual, although some departments do lag behind when it comes to gender diversity. Take our product development department: I’m one of only two female product owners among sixteen male product owners. That does feel weird sometimes,” Marloes says.

And the glass ceiling isn’t fully shattered yet either. Women at TOPdesk often need to prove their worth when interacting with customers while their male coworkers don’t. Everdien Kolk, now a member of the executive team, has seen it happen way too often in her sixteen years at TOPdesk:

“Customers often assumed female support employees couldn’t answer technically complex questions. Similarly, some customers would only take female consultants seriously if they had a technical background, while male consultants were taken seriously from the get-go, regardless of their title,” Everdien shares.

Representation matters

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Although the broken rung phenomenon affects TOPdesk as well, our current executive team consists of three women and two men. Marloes finds such representation really makes a difference:

“I look up to these women in senior management because they motivate me to think big and follow my dreams. Watching these women thrive in such a masculine environment is especially inspiring,” she says.

Laura Domingo Guillen, marketer at TOPdesk Australia, agrees with Marloes: “Seeing female representation in the executive team makes me confident about TOPdesk’s promise to improve gender diversity.”

And things are looking up for working moms as well. Kim Suzanne Stumpf, who leads the support team at TOPdesk Germany, found she was able to advance her career despite having children – which isn’t always a given, especially not in Germany. “I went from being a support employee to leading the entire support team, all the while working parttime to take care of my children,” Kim explains.

Companies can develop blind spots. That's why we should always prioritize gender diversity and make sure we keep an open mind to our own shortcomings.

Bridging the gap

Still, we have a long way to go. And the onus is on tech companies to bridge the gender gap. So, how can TOPdesk commit to lasting change?

Sofie Drijver, executive team member in charge of global marketing, sales and consultancy, thinks we shouldn’t become complacent: “Companies can develop blind spots. That’s why we should always prioritize gender diversity and make sure we keep an open mind to our own shortcomings.”

Laura agrees. According to her, “living in such a fast-paced society means that there is always room for improvement when it comes to gender diversity.”

Although our recruitment departments go through unconscious bias training and TOPdesk’s hiring process focuses on a candidate’s potential and not on their background, one blind spot may be our focus on culture fit. Since tech is such a male-dominated sector, it’s more than likely that recruiters will unconsciously view other men as having a better culture fit for certain teams than (trans) women, women of color or non-binary candidates.

Marloes recognizes this: “We need to make sure no bias sneaks into the hiring process. I hope to welcome more female product owners to the department soon!”

Diversity with inclusion

Everdien thinks we should focus on hiring more women of color: “Our Dutch branches lack color, especially when you compare it to the demographics of the cities our offices are based in. This is something we should improve.”

But without inclusion, diversity means nothing. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers explains that “diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Yes, we need to hire (trans) women, women of color and non-binary people. But the next step is making sure the environment is inclusive enough for such diverse talent to thrive.

Evidently, the tech industry has a lot of work to do to bridge the gender gap. TOPdesk takes this very seriously. Find out how we’re committed to creating and maintaining a workplace that encourages diversity, inclusion and belonging for all in this blog about Corporate Social Responsibility at TOPdesk.