It is an unfortunate fact that women continue to be a stark minority in technical industries.
Women are consistently making up less than a quarter of the workforce in IT, science, and engineering roles, and it seems like no matter how many times we talk about it, write blog posts, or walk the streets holding placards (OK, I’m exaggerating that last one) nothing really changes.
Is it systemic sexism? Early socialization? Biological difference (probably not)?
The answer is, likely, far less simple than cause-and-effect. As a result, the solution is going to need to be a multi-pronged attack.
In the latest episode of the DCD>Zero Downtime podcast, we spoke to Jacqueline van der Werken from Leaseweb about the gender gap and the practical moves we can take to close it.
“For an industry like the data center or telecom one, it is essential that we bring into play equal opportunities for women because our society has become all about digitalization. We are living and making progress in a world where a digital approach is key, I mean look at us - we’re talking on a podcast!” van der Werken said.
“There cannot be any distinction anymore in who to recruit. Any man, any woman, will be looked for and is needed.”
“By law, companies only have to focus on the gender diversity quota of the higher positions on the board and the supervisory board, which is a pity. But I hope that regardless of a strong regulatory regime to hire more women, the economy is driving towards that goal anyway. Because we want more women, we need more women and want women to choose more technical studies or feel more attracted to this industry.”
The question of attracting women is rooted in understanding what is making women stay away from the industry. Girls are frequently not taught at young ages to show interest in these topics - a disappointing reminder of how ingrained sexism is in society. And this is often only reinforced as they grow older, with boys taking more interest in STEM subjects at school.
Where was the Marie Curie Barbie when we needed it?
Fortunately, this is something that is being widely tackled now, and there is hope that the next generation of STEM workers will be creeping towards 50 percent female. But the data center industry cannot rely on others to do the heavy lifting, it has to be proactively sought at every level.
“We [Leaseweb] want to do mentorships, we want to broadcast, for example, webinars, where we can show our role models. There are so many ladies present, but we need to show young people that are at university, and even those who are in the non-technical studies, that you really can enter this industry and get to know it, and enjoy it.”