Taking Steps to Tackle the Gender Gap
Social and cultural notes on International Women's Day 2018
At Ibotta, data is my life. By analyzing data, we can extrapolate reasoning, understand behavior and discover solutions. I work alongside incredibly talented data scientists, machine learning engineers, and business analysts to identify trends, inform strategic direction and build algorithms. Ultimately, data guides us to make better, more efficient decisions.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with everything.
Even in 2018, with concrete data on gender gaps in the workplace, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar men do, with the pay gap widening among Hispanic and African American female workers. The technology industry is particularly underrepresented, with only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26 percent of computing jobs held by women. It doesn’t get any better at the top, either, with only 5 percent of the technology industry’s leadership positions held by women.
Despite this data, little progress has been made to bridge the gender gap.
That’s why International Women’s Day is so important. We need data to highlight areas of opportunity and to motivate and inspire us. In a year of great movements, I encourage everyone to take one more step forward. Here’s how to get started:
1. INVITE DIALOGUE
While the gender gap might not be news to most women working in the technology industry,
working to bridge this starts with looking at – and communicating - the data around it. Providing background and education on the topic is crucial to having informed and productive conversations.
Those conversations won’t be easy either, but leadership teams can earn employee respect and trust by addressing the existing gap with honesty and transparency. Be frank: your organization might be in need of more women employees overall, a stronger female recruitment strategy externally, or a better gender distribution within the leadership team. No matter the gap, the most important place to start is with a conversation that highlights the need for change and an initial plan for how your company will get there. We cannot enact change in silence.
2. CHAMPION WOMEN ACROSS ALL DISCIPLINES
It can be hard for female employees to feel inspired if they can’t relate to their fellow co-workers or department heads. I’ve spent most of my entire career in technical roles, and am no stranger to the struggle of trying to find a like-minded mentor or co-worker.
This is one of the biggest reasons I helped sponsor Ibotta’s Women in Tech Task Force, with a goal to increase the percentage of women in technical positions within the company. Anyone who is part of the technical team within Ibotta sits on the task force, and currently we have 30 technical women and 2 Human Resources employees. We started by meeting monthly to discuss challenges facing women on Ibotta’s technical team, and encourage open and honest dialogue between colleagues on any and all topics related to gender equality. As the task force has evolved, so too has our approach: while we still welcome constructive dialogues, we also aim to find action-oriented solutions for team problems.
After hearing the needs of women across the company, one of WTTF’s committee members, Shaina Jordan, after hearing the needs of women across the company and those on the WIL committee, identified a need to foster relationships between women and members of the senior leadership team. Shaina, along with Ibotta’s COO, Kane McCord, launched a mentorship program to provide a two-way learning opportunity between female employees and Ibotta’s C-suite. The six-month, application-based program connects nine women with senior leaders at Ibotta in a one-on-one setting, fostering strong relationships and strengthening professional development. While our mentorship program only uses a small handful of resources (mainly time), its benefits, both individually and as an organization, are meaningful.
3. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED
While the Women in Tech Task Force is geared towards Ibotta’s female employees, men and women both need to be involved if an organization is to achieve real, long-lasting change. Ibotta’s Women in Leadership Committee does just this. The committee is comprised of a group of women and men who are passionate about supporting women in the workplace and elevating their role within the company. The committee’s mission is to educate, equip and empower individuals to diversify their skill set, and hosts at least one company and/or community wide event each quarter that ties into a relevant theme or topic.
I’ve been lucky throughout my career - I’ve worked alongside a lot of male mentors, leaders, and especially advocates who have supported and championed my growth and development. While building advocates comes with a lot of hard work, out-hustle, and a positive attitude, I’m grateful that I’ve had individuals that have gone the extra mile on my behalf.
The path to change is a long one. But it’s one that begins with a single step. International Women’s Day might only fall once a year, but the pursuit of gender equality is an initiative that should be ever-evolving. Take the time today and you can build the foundation for a more equal tomorrow.
Bijal Shah is the senior vice president of analytics at Denver-based Ibotta.