Women in business: Why future of technology must be inclusive
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Women in business: Why future of technology must be inclusive

Women in business: Why future of technology must be inclusive

In the past two years, the tech world has shown us its impact on all life fields and sectors, opines Azza Al Marzouqi, HPE UAE HR Lead

Gulf Business

What are your thoughts about gender parity, particularly in the tech sector?
I believe the future of technology should be inclusive of every gender and ethnicity. The world of technology requires tremendous efforts from all tech giants to achieve equality. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between revenue, the company’s morale and positive brand reputation in a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

According to a report by McKinsey claims that if women’s equality is advanced, that could add approximately $12tn to global GDP by 2025. Today, we celebrate women’s achievements and milestones and draw inspiration from those trailblazing women who have driven innovation, challenged her status quo and started movements.

What are the challenges women face today in the world of tech?
In the past two years, the tech world has shown us its impact on all life fields and sectors, and the pandemic has shown us that the tech industry is constantly changing. Its universally known that the tech industry is dominated by males, and throughout the years this issue has been raised several times, but no major action has been taken. According to a survey by PwC, 78 per cent of students surveyed in the UK can’t mention names of women leaders in tech. A PwC report states that only 23 per cent of people working in STEM roles in the UK are female, while only five percent of leadership positions in technology are held by women.

Similar to any other STEM field, gender bias is saturated in the technology sector. Career breaks are an unsaid mandate to all working females. With regards to the technology sector, women taking career breaks for maternity reasons or others usually lose contact with the industry latest trends and end up lacking the required skills and tools to return and adapt to the new norm. Usually, women are too distressed to explain the reason for the career break when they plan to return. To avoid the risk of termination, new moms or generally women cut down their paid maternity leave and return to work to mitigate the risk of job loss due to non-attendance.

What are some of the solutions to bring gender parity at the workplace?
The tech sector is one of the major industries that faces inherent gender bias issues. According to a recent study by Technology and Talent Study 2021 by the Harvey Nash Group, 15 per cent of the tech sector made up of female workers. To truly foster an inclusive environment, businesses must take a position and enforce policies to create a more diverse ecosystem for their workforce.

What’s your outlook on gender equality at the workplace in the UAE?
Over the past decade, the UAE has made great strides in empowering women and supporting inclusivity and gender equality in the workplace. The UAE ranked 35th out of 189 countries in the 2018 UNDP Human Development Report, and ranked 49th in the Gender Inequality Index in the 2018 UNDP Human Development Report. In 2021, the UAE became the first country in the MENA region to introduce paid parental leave for employees in the private sector. This policy was part of a broader reform enacted by the government to empower women’s participation in the labour force.

Today, we are witnessing a global shift towards gender equality. I can proudly claim that the UAE government has championed empowering women and supporting their rights for decades. According to stats by Dubai Women Establishment, 23,000 Emirati businesswomen run projects worth over Dhs50bn, and occupy 15 per cent of the positions on the boards of chambers of commerce and industry nationwide.

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