REPORT: THE NETWORK EFFECT: HOW WOMEN BEAT THE ODDS TO GET TO THE TOP IN TECH
- Women face significant hurdles getting to the top in tech, and companies have a vested interest in supporting them to accelerate through the ranks. The competition to hire talented candidates for tech positions is intense and increasing as the need for these roles grows. Companies cannot afford to miss out on this valuable source of talent.
- BCG and the Women’s Forum (Women4STEM Daring Circle) developed a picture of the work environment for women in tech. This report is based on a survey of more than 1,500 women and men working in tech leadership across France, Germany, Italy and the UK as well as 30 in-depth interviews with tech leaders (tech leaders = leaders in the tech industry or leaders in tech functions in other industries).
- We found three significant similarities between the women and men who make it to the top in tech:
- There is no ambition gap. In fact, women are slightly more likely than men to say they will seek promotions in the next 1-3 years (47% vs. 42%).
- They are equally comfortable taking risks or willing to take risks (such as applying for a position without meeting all the criteria).
- Importantly, they have a high level of technical or tech-adjacent expertise—although this does not mean that a STEM degree (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is necessarily required for a flourishing career in tech.
- However, on their path to leadership, women surmount challenges that most men don’t face:
- Many have caregiving responsibilities that result in longer leaves of absence. 60% of women vs. 45% of men have declined a role due to their caregiving responsibilities.
- There are too few role models and peers to help support and guide them.
- And, they perceive a greater pressure to prove their skills than men, in particular tech skills; which means women feel they have to work harder for the same recognition.
- A key finding is that when making careers decisions, women tend to rely more on strong networks of support—such as recruiting firms, peers, mentors, sponsors, affiliation groups, and household members—while men are more likely to rely on their self-confidence (2x as likely as women) in addition to their networks. Given this, organizations can actively help women build, nurture, and sustain these networks to support their careers in tech.
- The report provides recommendations for senior leaders, line managers, HR and DEI managers as well as for women.
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