Yet numerous studies have shown that gender diversity can not only contribute to better problem solving and performance, it can also improve company profitability. In fact, a 2015 McKinsey report of 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.
Another McKinsey report entitled The Bottom Line: Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards, revealed that companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors significantly and consistently outperform those with no female representation – by 41% in terms of return on equity and by 56% in terms of operating results.
The Need for More Role ModelsTogether with several companies in the IT industry, Unionen - the biggest trade union in Sweden and the biggest white-collar union in the world - conducted a study about young women’s perception of working within the IT field. The study indicated that young women believe there is a lack of role models in the IT field and a belief among young women that they don't have the right personal characteristics to manage the job or fit in the role descriptions.
At Benify, we follow a diversity success plan that consists of several initiatives aimed at decreasing the gender gap. Some examples of our efforts include bias, diversity and inclusion training for all employees, and the formation of a female network for our women in IT called "Benitas".
Leading the WayYlva Häggblad is a frontend developer at Benify and one of the leaders of Benitas. She is passionate about diversity and gender equality in the IT sector and a great role model for other women in IT. We sat down with Ylva to learn more.
Ylva, what is your reflection on the report from Unionen?I can’t say it was an uplifting read, but I can’t say that I’m surprised either – if I’d been asked the same questions 5 years ago, I’d probably have the same opinion about the IT industry. After working as a developer for a few years now, I’m happy none of my preconceptions were true.
On the other hand, I’m very happy this study has shed some light upon where the issues seem to be so something can be done about it. I’m of the opinion that the biggest responsibility lies upon us that work within the IT industry – we need to become better at explaining what a job in IT is like, and to highlight the female role models we do have within our industry. I’m surrounded by lots of role models I didn’t know existed before I started to work in IT, so they do most certainly exist!
What do you think about the fact that many young women don't believe they have the right personal characteristics to work within IT?My best guess is that they lack female role models they can relate to, knowledge about what kind of positions are available within IT and what you actually do as a developer, which was the same for me before I started to work within the IT industry.
Looking at the study results, I'm surprised to see that the participants didn't believe that personal characteristics such as the ability to adapt, being helpful, reliable, caring and a good listener are important for a job within IT because they are. Being a developer at Benify is all about teamwork, communication and helping others.
What made you choose to become a frontend developer?In my opinion, frontend development is the perfect combination of technology and human interaction. Being a frontend developer means that the code I write changes what the user sees and interacts with on a web page – in other words, how it looks and behaves. Therefore, I need to not only make solutions that work from a technological perspective but also constantly keep the end-user in mind. It’s important that my solutions create an interface and a flow that is appealing, easy to use and understandable for the end-user. This is what initially made me interested in frontend development, and I’m happy it did!
Once I started working as a developer, I realised that the role fit me even better than I thought. It’s all about working together, seeing things from many different perspectives and adapting solutions to fulfil a variety of different needs. New technologies, new trends, and new end-user behaviours mean that there’s always something new to explore and learn, so I’m constantly being challenged.
Having great colleagues who generously share their knowledge and perspective is another reason I love my job and the fact that I’m working with a product that makes life easier for so many employers and their employees.
What advice would you give women who are considering a career as a developer and want to know more?If your main concern is that you’re unsure if a job in the IT industry will be a good fit for you, I’d suggest talking to someone who works in the industry to get a better view of how it is.
There are a lot of groups on social media for women who write code or work within IT, which are more than happy to share experiences and answer questions if you’re looking for a female perspective. If you’re unsure if writing code is something for you, my advice is to try and see if you like it. You can either find coding classes and tutorials online or attend events, meetup groups or even coding camps where you can try it out – many of which are only for women, which is great because it gives you an opportunity to meet other women with the same interest.