13 Mar 2023
by Nimisha Taylor

Mentoring women in tech

Women in tech are under-represented. Two thirds of the workforce in global tech firms are men. yet women comprise nearly half of the world’s workforce. Even more worrying is that companies are struggling to retain women in tech. Despite the work being intellectually stimulating, women are dropping out of their tech jobs at a 45% higher rate than men.  Lack of career advancement and mentoring support have been reported as some of the top reasons for this.

A mentoring programme to boost women’s careers can transform company culture and keep women in the industry, delivering significant economic benefits. In the UK, increasing the number of women working in IT could generate an extra £2.6 billion a year for the economy.

Mentoring can retain female talent 

A mentoring programme can be a game-changer for companies to attract women returners, career switchers and career progression in the industry. Women that that are mentored are better prepared for promotions, stay with organisations longer and feel more satisfied in their jobs. Changing the company culture could retain 1.4 million women in tech roles by 2030.6 When software company SUSE launched its internal mentoring programme, its CEO said that “Almost 100 percent of the women we’ve brought into the mentoring program so far, say this has improved their understanding of the company, what a career path could look like and how to get there.”    

What is mentoring? 

Mentoring is when a trusted professional shares their knowledge and experience with another person to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. A mentor can offer a roadmap to show the mentee the big picture, where they are, where they want to go, the roads to take and the roads not to take. Apps and software like Mentorink, eMentorConnect, and MentorCloud can facilitate virtual mentoring by matching mentees and mentors in different locations. 

How can mentees benefit? 

Many highly-skilled women are less inclined to self-promote, present at industry conferences (especially when technical content is involved) and don’t always apply for jobs/promotions unless they meet 100% of the criteria. A mentor can help in the following areas.  

  • Leadership skills. To improve communication and presentation skills in a safe environment. 

  • Career progression. To boost self-confidence and visibility to advance any stage of their career. 

  • Work-life balance. To set work boundaries and focus on high-impact projects. 

  • Networking. To open new doors through introductions to people and organisations.  

  • Knowledge. To share tips and resources to learn quickly and keep up to date.  

What steps can companies take? 

  • Have female mentors. Women often feel more comfortable discussing difficulties and aspirations with other women. If your organisation lacks female mentors, consider partnering with other women in tech organisations or industry associations. 

  • Encourage men to mentor women. Male mentors can break biases between male and female colleagues and build better working relationships. For men that are new to mentoring, structured programmes and mentor guidelines can provide good guidance. 

  • Create a “culture of mentoring” within your organisation. Mentoring is often seen as an extra-curriculum activity rather than a regular activity for developing employees. Senior leadership must lead by example and champion mentoring throughout the organisation. 

What steps can women take? 

  • Find mentors outside your organisation. Industry associations and community platforms like the WomenTech mentoring programme can help meet new people and broaden skills and perspectives. 

  • Find different mentors for different goals. Anthony Tjan, a business expert, recommends a “Master of Craft”, a mentor that is an expert in your field, a mentor that “Champions your cause” and a mentor that is your “Co-pilot” to talk through projects.   

With more women in tech contributing, not only will companies benefit, but gender equality has the potential to maximise the digital transformation taking place in our economies and societies. Advancing women’s equality could add US12 trillion (11%) to global GDP by 2025.   

techUK is marching forward to close the tech gender gap in 2023. Throughout March, coinciding with International Women’s Day (IWD 2023) on 8 March, we are exploring how we embrace equitable workplaces. The UN’s theme for IWD 2023 focuses on Digital for All or DigitALL, and we are proud to support this.

For more information, please visit our Women in Tech hub.

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Nimisha Taylor

Access Partnership