The Norden project, led by the Women Go Tech mentorship project with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers, recently reviewed the situation regarding gender equality in tech in Norway. Similarly as in previous discussions, the participants had to identify the main challenges related to women leadership in STEM disciplines as well as focus on potential solutions. Considering the example of Norway specifically, early-age STEM development, career advancement opportunities, and inclusiveness were dominating topics, and we can spot the same trend as in most other countries reviewed previously.
Early development in STEM
Norway can be already displayed as an example of many positive practices since such initiatives as Jenter og Teknologi, Kidsakoder and the GirlsCode have been taking place for a while. All of these activities are aimed at getting girls into tech and show existing opportunities from a very young age. Also, a wide scope of tech skills appliance is demonstrated in light of these activities, as, for example, the opportunity to contribute to healthcare development without even being a doctor.
Regarding other best practices of early development in STEM, the impact of various role models and authorities is crucially important too. During the session, the involvement of parents, teachers, and even tech influencers was discussed. Each of these connections can work in different ways while bringing positive changes whatsoever. For instance, parents and teachers, having less formal relationships with young girls can educate them about the opportunities in tech as well as encourage to dig deeper into various tech-related disciplines. Meanwhile, tech influencers can become a great support in various events, workshops, and other activities.
Career advancement opportunities
In general, the necessity for both short-term and long-term strategies was raised in the discussion. One of the participants, working in NORA (the Norwegian Center of Artificial Intelligence), took this organisation as a positive example of efficient planning regarding female leadership in tech. Apart from attracting women to AI, it is also important to improve internal policies and networking opportunities.
It was also suggested that every company should look at the budget and check how much the budgeting is affected by gender stereotypes, including promotion and other opportunities at work. These are often not explicit for men and women, but the bias still exists, and therefore women’s access to various opportunities becomes limited along with the limitation already being in the budget.
It was noticed that male employees tended to switch their careers to AI easier because of being more eager when it comes to tech. As a result, it is important to make sure that women have enough career opportunities at the workplace to increase their participation within various projects. As the relevance of AI is growing, reducing any gender bias to the minimum is necessary not only because of more improved female leadership in tech but also due to the better development of the field overall.
The focus on inclusiveness in the workplace should start with the changes in recruitment processes. The discussion group noticed that many job advertisements are better fitted to male applicants, so they should be reviewed with the industry professionals in order to provide a more inclusive process. This should involve not only competence-based elements but also a significant focus on gender equality and diversity. Besides the selection process, similar steps should be applied to any type of external communications or company branding.
Similarly as discussed previously, role models and networking are really important there. Various best practices can be implemented through relevant social activities, events and mentorship schemes in the workplace. What is more, various courses or training programmes for female employees may help to develop certain tech skills quicker as well as rescale or upscale in their current roles and thus raise their competence. Resulting from these initiatives, we can expect to see better levels of gender equality in tech.