When I started out in my career in oil and gas I was the only female on my team.
There were NO female leaders or managers and barely any female colleagues across the whole organization and very few in the industry itself. In the 11 years I was with my first employer, I never reported to a woman.
As I look back on my 16 years since setting up 2Hill Consulting, I can see there has been some… slow… progress. There are definitely more female leaders in all sectors. A great deal of my clients are female leaders and executives; decision makers and change makers. It’s great to see but it feels like it took too long to achieve too little. (For context, less than a fifth of corporate board members are female and women hold only 24 of the CEO positions in the Fortune 500.) The percentage of women working in the oil and gas industry remains unchanged at 22%, the same level reported in 2017.
Even less visible is progress for Black Americans. Black, female Americans… yep, even more so.
Representation in tech is yet more dire, and frustrating. A new report found that progress towards racial equity is not only stalled, but in many respects, regressing, throughout each phase of the tech pipeline.
The system is broken. The Leaky Tech Pipeline is hemorrhaging talent. The culture in tech has not evolved to where it needs to be.
Women now make up just 26% of the workforce in computer science-related jobs – with Black and Latinx women making up only about 5%, collectively – according to a study from the National Center for Women & Information Technology.
“The consequences of inaction in the tech industry are significant for Black communities,” said Dr. Allison Scott, CEO of the Kapor Center. “Technological advancement continues to drive our economy and transform the nature of work, and the exclusion of Black talent from this sector impacts innovation, product creation, economic mobility, and is a significant driver of inequality. One-off solutions have not worked. It is time to invest in long-term structural solutions.”
While the statistics can be demotivating I don’t want them to pull focus from an important positive: we are all so much more connected now and have structures that exist to support and grow representation for the underserved. I’m active in many and most recently spoke at the Women’s Energy Network conference and was a guest on the WEN podcast – take a listen here. Sharing our stories is so important in changing the narrative – as is education, mentoring and access to opportunities for professional development.
I hope that, like me, you will stay curious, stay creative. Change is hard, change is uncomfortable, but our skills and abilities span so much further than the systems and structures that constrain us.