New research finds about one in four will achieve leadership roles in 2022—up 4% since 2019.

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There’s some good news for women in the traditionally male-dominated technology field: They are shrinking the gender gap. Newly-released research from Deloitte Global predicts that there will be nearly 33% overall female representation in large global tech firms, on average, in 2022, up slightly more than two percentage points from 2019.

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According to Deloitte’s estimates, women’s share in the overall global tech workforce has increased by 6.9% from 2019 to 2022, while their share in technical roles has grown by 11.7%. Notably, the fastest growth—an estimated gain of nearly 20%—has occurred in the proportion of women in leadership, the firm said.

“We predict that roughly one in four leadership roles at large global tech firms will be held by women in 2022, representing a rise of more than four percentage points since 2019,’’ the Deloitte research said.

The technology, media and telecommunications industry in North America now has one of the highest percentages of women on boards–second only to the consumer industry–with 25% of board seats held by women, up from 17.4% in 2018, Deloitte said. This has been helped by board diversity legislation in states with a high proportion of TMT companies, such as California and Washington, according to the firm.

Tech companies are taking the lead

Many large tech companies have made public commitments to improving gender diversity, including increasing women in their technical and leadership ranks, the firm said. The research cites HP as an example, saying the company has pledged to reach 50% gender equality in roles at the director level and above by 2030, and to meet or surpass labor market representation for racial/ethnic minorities.

 Intel is another example, Deloitte said. The company aims to double the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles by 2030.

“It makes sense that tech companies are moving the needle on women in leadership faster than women in other roles: It helps send a signal to prospective employees, it helps shift corporate culture, and it may help tech companies increase retention of women in their overall and technical workforces,’’ Deloitte said.

Tips for diversifying workforces

 But tech firms should not rest on their laurels. There is still much work they need to do to diversify their workforces and include a wider range of perspectives, the new Deloitte research notes. The company offers three suggestions for steps they should take:

  1. Commit to a holistic, diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. This is a must for recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, Deloitte said. The research points to a 2020 study by Lenovo and Intel, which Deloitte said revealed that a majority of professionals in five countries regard a company’s DEI policies and performance as important considerations in their decisions about jobs to pursue and accept.
    Some tech companies have formed a coalition to tackle diversity shortcomings in their sector and share best practices and lessons learned. Its members plan to develop guidance for board and executive roles that reflect the customers and communities they serve to improve leadership representation.
  2. Embrace goal-setting, transparency and accountability. Tech companies must identify diversity metrics, report results and track progress. Then they can assess what is and isn’t working, revise their approach, and improve.
    A coalition of more than 30 tech company executives, along with academics and DEI experts, has pledged to accelerate DEI progress and collaborated on an “Action to Catalyze Tech” report, Deloitte said. One of its goals is to create industry-wide reporting standards for DEI demographic data.
  3. Establish creative programs to hire, retain and promote. Grooming more women for leadership roles in tech requires hiring and building a strong bench of female employees—but there are well-known STEM pipeline issues, Deloitte noted. It must go beyond diversifying the pipeline, which the firm called “a commendable goal but one that will likely take many years of aggressive effort.”
    Deloitte advocates for the establishment of apprenticeships, which it said some tech companies have done with the goal of recruiting and upskilling “unconventional talent.” This includes people who have switched careers and lack a traditional tech background, as well as “returnship” programs that provide training and mentorship to women resuming their careers after a pause.

Mentorship programs and development opportunities may help companies improve retention of women and support their advancement to leadership, however, Deloitte’s 2021 “Women @ Work” study found that less than a quarter of TMT companies has taken these steps.