Equity vs equality – what that looks like for women in tech

| In SMX Blog |
03 2023 SMX X IWD2023 Blog Supportingiwd (1)

This International Women’s Day, we’re focussing on the position of women in STEM industries – we acknowledge that other groups are also poorly represented and face huge challenges in our industry.

In 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, guided by a control room of all men, except for JoAnn H. Morgan – NASA’s first women engineer. It would be nice to think that her pioneering presence in the room opened the door to a flood of  women technicians, but half a century later women make up only one third of the staff, and only 16 percent of senior scientific employees.

That’s a stat we see across the STEM industries – only 28% of STEM workers are women.

We know women can do these jobs, and that diversity improves innovation and profitability. So, why are the numbers still so imbalanced?


Where are the women?

Even if it seems like women have equal access to opportunities in the workplace, it’s simply not true. Here are just some of the ways society norms are making things harder for women.

  • Women do far more unpaid labour – In an ideal world, people would make equal contributions to their home life, but that’s not the case yet. Statistically, women still do the lion’s share of the home and childcare labour. They are the ones remembering birthdays, buying Christmas gifts for extended family, and fielding phone calls from daycare.

What the STEM industry needs is equity – acknowledging that even if law and business policy insist on equal treatment for women, an unequal society means women can’t take advantage of it.


What does equity for women look like for the STEM industry?

Talk to any employer in science or technology, and they’ll all say they wish they had more women in their teams. SMX is no different ­– just 17% of our staff and none of our engineers are women. That’s something we’re actively working to solve – but just wanting to recruit women isn’t enough. We have to tackle this issue from multiple angles.

Here’s what it’ll take.

Supporting girls and young women to study

More women in STEM jobs means more women studying it in the first place. There are already great organisations and role models working to inspire girls and young women – if you’re serious about changing the moving the dial on women’s representation, start there.

Shadowtech arranges for girls in their final years of high school to see what working in the tech sector could be like and SheSharp connects women in STEM industries through events, workshops, and networking opportunities. Similarly, Tech Women inspire girls into tech roles, help grow their careers and shape policy to improve diversity in the tech workplace.

Business operational changes that make it easier for women to succeed

Until society shifts, we’ve got to accept that women face more challenges than men – what can workplaces do to even things up a bit?

Juggling work, childcare and home is still a struggle for women – research from LinkedIn found that over half of women have left or considered leaving their current role because of a lack of flexibility. In an ideal world, parents would be involved with their children equally, but we know from experience this is not the case.

Tackling unconscious bias and discrimination is tougher – that takes a culture-wide shift. A good starting point: targeted training and development for women, pay parity and flexible work.

Removing the bias from recruiting

There’s plenty of research to show what you can do to get more women candidates to apply for job – and it’s not actually all that hard.

It’s something we’re actively working into our recruitment process…


Let’s get equitable

We hope you’ll  join us in taking this International Women’s Day as a call to action.

Businesses and clients would be better off with more women in our workforce – and there are a bunch of concrete steps  we can take to get there. All of them start with making our workplace not just equal, but equitable.


International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women aimed at accelerating women's equality. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity.