Poised & Ready For a Challenge: Women in Tech
If you’ve watched the news today, browsed the internet, checked your social media or even talked with a friend, you’ve likely heard this topic come up: gender equality. Fortunately, Blue Compass is ahead of the curve. The Blue Compass team is 66 percent women, which makes us leaps and bounds ahead of many other technology companies.
As a female on the digital marketing team at Blue Compass, I feel pretty lucky. Our team is made of seven women and two men (sorry gentleman, you guys are great, and we love you!) and that includes women in leadership positions. On the development team, we have Brooke, a kick-butt developer whose talent is equal to none. Kayla, our graphic designer, produces beautiful and creative images that continually exceed our clients’ expectations.
And of course, there is our wonderful and extremely organized team of Account Executives who ensure all Blue Compass projects are running smoothly. The AE team is made up of primarily women, and these ladies have extensive knowledge of the workings of both the development and the digital marketing teams. Additionally, our excellent Client Support team is comprised solely of women.
And last but certainly not least, our phenomenal office manager, Megan, makes sure our daily operations run smoothly. Not only does she make sure we don’t burn down the building, but she also actively works with our Account Executive and Client Support teams.
Brands Changing the Conversation
Even though we are lucky at Blue Compass, that’s not always the case in other tech companies. As a female who works in the tech industry as a digital marketer, I can’t help but notice the conversation swirling around how women earn less money than men or how they aren’t occupying the C-suite roles. Although early in my career, the facts and statistics, make me ask, “Will I ever one day reach the top of the ladder?”
In response to this ongoing conversation, brands like American Girl, Barbie, and Under Armour are using the digital sphere to promote the fact that women are equally able to achieve the same successes as men. Here are a few examples:
Let's take a look at women’s current role in the tech industry and how some females are taking it upon themselves to make a change.
Diversity in the Tech Industry
The Tech Industry in General
There is a general lack of diversity in the technology industry. It’s no secret that the workforce in these organizations is predominantly Caucasian or Asian males. This doesn’t mean that the heads of the tech companies aren’t receiving backlash for the lack of equality in their enterprises.
A study done by Fortune gathered demographic information from the top nine tech companies in Silicon Valley and ranked them by their gender and ethnic diversity. The study found that women only account for one-third of the workforce. To obtain these results, Fortune assigned points to four categories: overall gender diversity, overall ethnic diversity, gender diversity in leadership and ethnic diversity in leadership*. Here is how the companies fared, from best to worst:
Rising higher in the company ranks, the gap between men and women begins to grow. In the company with the best results, LinkedIn, women hold only 29 percent of leadership roles. However, these findings don’t mean that organizations aren’t trying to make the move toward a more diverse workforce. Companies like Facebook, Google, IBM and Amazon state they are committed to recruiting more women to their workforce.
Why Aren't More Women in Tech?
Today, there is the belief that women are not in tech. Many attribute it to the lack of females studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). But don’t believe everything you’ve been told. The National Girls Collaborative Project found the number of male and female high school students are almost equal when it comes to STEM electives.
So what is it? Bonnie Marcus, a contributor to Forbes magazine, puts it eloquently. Marcus writes, “The gender and racial bias is so ubiquitous in the technology industry that it forces talented female and minority employees to leave.” Without addressing this underlying bias, technology companies will not be able to improve their diversity.
Only Room for One Woman
The biases mentioned above may go much farther than one initially believes. In fact, it goes all the way up to the top. Research from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and Columbia Business School found that if a woman is in a company’s highest-paid executive position, another woman’s chances of joining the executive team drop 51 percent.
As of 2015, only 14.2 percent of top five leadership positions in S&P 500 companies were women. If you’re the company’s head honcho, you’re even less likely to be a woman. Of the 500 companies, only 24 women are CEOs.
TBWA recently released a video in honor of International Women’s Day in which they read quotes from their female colleagues working in agencies. For some, the video may seem eye opening but for many women, they've had all these thoughts or feelings before. Many women feel the need always to be “strong” or “tough” to prove themselves while still maintaining a “sensitive” nature, as that’s what is expected of women.
Women in Digital Marketing
Becoming a leader in the world of digital marketing is difficult, and it’s not any easier if you’re a woman. Search Engine Land reviewed studies done by WordStream, a paid search platform, and Moz.
WordStream Gender & Digital Marketing Survey
In the WordStream study, which was based on internal data from WordStream itself, they found there is quantifiable evidence of gender bias in the digital marketing profession. The data showed that women are undervalued by 21 percent compared to their male counterparts. To find these numbers, WordStream broke down their recent customer satisfaction data regarding male and female account service reps. Female account representatives received below average satisfaction scores whereas every male account rep received high satisfaction ratings.
WordStream didn't stop there. They took it a step further by looking at which of their Google AdWords accounts were running better. Why does AdWords matter? The accounts were either male or female-controlled. Using their AdWords Grader tool on the accounts from the satisfaction survey, they found the accounts supported by female representatives had higher scores than the accounts ran by men. And it wasn’t just an small difference. The females’ accounts had a 19 percent higher score than the men’s.
Moz Digital Marketing Salary Survey
Moz’s salary survey shed considerable light on the wage gap between male and female digital marketers. The study revealed that female digital marketers with the same education and experience as their male counterpart are paid less. While the wage gap isn’t mindblowing, seeing the difference in salary is.
To break it down even further, men who have between 5-10 years of experience earn an average of $15,000 more than their female counterparts with an equal amount of experience. When there are 10+ years of experience, the gap becomes enormous with men earning $30,000 more than women.
Female Digital Marketers That Won't Be Stopped
Fortunately, these inequalities aren't slowing women down. In fact, some might say that it has become a driving force. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is one of the most recognized woman in technology. However, it’s not just Sandberg who is making a splash in the world of digital marketing. Below are just a few organizations, and women, making a difference in the world of digital marketing.
L’Oreal, the beauty brand that’s found in every drug and superstore, has created an initiative to recognize women in digital marketing. Women in Digital focuses on women in digital marketing, technology and IT by providing them with recognition and recruitment opportunities. L’Oreal states that their vision for this initiative is to address the beauty industry with technology for women created by women.
If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve heard of HubSpot, and you’ve likely utilized their blog as a resource. Pamela Vaughan is the principal marketing manager on HubSpot’s optimization team. Her specialty? Blog optimization. I think we should be thanking Pamela for her amazing optimization skills since we often find HubSpot’s blog at the top of the SERPs.
Marketing Profs is another common name when it comes to content and digital marketing tools. Who is the Chief Content Officer? Her name is Ann Handley, and she has almost two decades of digital marketing experience. On top of her work with Marketing Profs, Handley co-founded ClickZ.com, a place where digital marketers can find interactive marketing news and commentary.
Women Who are Redefining the Rules in Tech
Today, many women have taken a stand against gender inequality and aren’t afraid to talk about it. In this video, six women in media and marketing get together to talk about leadership. The women are:
- Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe
- Dawn Hudson, Chief Marketing Officer of the NFL
- Liza Landsman, Chief Customer Officer of Jet.com
- Sarah Thompson, global CEO of Droga5
- Kristin Lemkau, Chief Marketing Officer of JPMorgan Chase
- Rebecca Minkoff, Co-founder and fashion designer of Rebecca Minkoff
Companies Trying to Make a Change
Although it will take time for companies to become more gender diverse, there are companies making strides in hiring more women into their workforce. The social sharing site Pinterest has stated they are making changes to their recruiting process to hire more women.
Facebook has also launched several initiatives to diversify their team. Sheryl Sandberg has even stated that she thinks Facebook needs to improve their hiring process when it comes to females. Google, too, has stated they wish to hire more women into their company.
The Women of Blue Compass
As previously stated, Blue Compass is setting precedence in the industry by having a predominantly female workforce.
Cary Coppola, our CEO, has this to say about the women on the Blue Compass team:
"We're proud to have a team comprised of 66 percent women, which is more than double and triple of many major technology companies. Bringing awareness to the integral role both men and women play in digital marketing and the overall success of the work we do for our clients is engrained in the Blue Compass culture. As a testimony to the tremendous talent we have on our team, several of our staff members have been recipients of Iowa's prestigious ‘Women of Innovation’ awards presented by the Technology Association of Iowa."
- Cary Coppola, CEO & Co-founder
The talent knows no bounds at Blue Compass, making it an exciting and creative space for both men and women. This allows us to provide our clients with digital marketing and development expertise that they won't be able to find elsewhere.
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*It should be noted that the study by Fortune also includes ethnic diversity on top of gender diversity in their ranking factors.