Jul 9, 2024

How have ASquared addressed the unique challenges women face in the tech workplace?

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Did you know that only 26% of those in tech are women? (Women in Tech 2023 survey.) The tech industry is always buzzing with innovation and growth, but it has been slower to face challenges in achieving gender diversity and supporting the unique needs of women in the workplace.

Here at ASquared, we want to design and develop impactful mobile and web apps for passionate and diverse people, which we believe needs a passionate and diverse team to deliver. Back in 2022, our team consisted of 27% women, 73% men, and just two nationalities. Despite making some inroads, we realised we had a long way to go to reach our diversity goals. Fast forward to today, and ASquared are proud to have 56% women, including two female developers, and 44% men on our team, representing five nationalities.

Women entering and maintaining careers in tech often encounter a range of challenges, from battling gender stereotypes and bias to juggling work-life balance and a lack of representation and mentorship. At ASquared, we took a good look at these issues to work out what we could do better. After all, we want everyone, especially women, to feel welcomed and included in tech.

We sat down with Ant (CEO) and Soph (Head of Growth) to talk all about ASquared's journey to address these unique challenges. Ready to dive in?

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

The challenges

Gender stereotypes and implicit bias

It’s not uncommon for women in tech to come up against persistent stereotypes that suggest tech roles are better suited for men. Stereotypes can have a profound effect, from hiring practices through to team dynamics and even the self-perception of women considering careers in tech. The gender gap isn't going unnoticed either… 91% of people surveyed believe there are more men in tech than women (Women in Tech 2023 survey).

Implicit bias also plays a role. Women may find it harder to get hired or promoted, even when they're just as qualified as their male counterparts with 76% of people saying they've experienced gender bias or discrimination at work at least once (Women in Tech 2023 survey).

Work-life balance, maternity leave, and flexible work arrangements

There are many challenges that women might face when taking maternity leave and returning to work. 

It’s natural to have feelings of concern about job security, career progression, as well as the perception of “falling behind” when you’ve had time away from a fast-paced industry. And, as women are often the primary caregivers (8x more likely according to the Equal Lives Report, 2019), this can impact availability and flexibility for work-related commitments upon return too.

Trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance can be a significant stressor. Despite 63% of women saying that flexible working is one of the top 3 things attracting them to a job, not all workplaces offer flexible work arrangements to their employees (Women in Tech 2023 survey).

Representation and mentorship

The tech industry still has relatively few women in senior technical roles which, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of gender bias. As of 2023, stats show that 77% of tech leaders were men (techUK, 2023), even though 90% of people believe the sector could benefit from a gender equal workforce (Women in Tech 2023 survey). 

Without visible role models, it can be difficult for women to envision themselves in top positions. It also means that female mentors are scarce. Without a myriad of formal mentorship programmes addressing the unique challenges women in tech face, there will always be a lack of support for career development and the equal chance to grow professionally.

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

So, what did ASquared do?

Women’s mental health can be impacted if these challenges go unaddressed in the workplace and are not given the care and attention they deserve.

Tech can often be a high-pressure environment, so when stress is paired with a non-inclusive workplace culture, it can often lead to feelings of isolation and alienation. If women feel unwelcome or undervalued, their job satisfaction, wellbeing and progression opportunities can all be affected. 

At ASquared, we wanted proper support systems in place, as otherwise, our employees might not have the resources they need to maintain their wellbeing. We knew that to get the gender balance right, to really embrace cultural diversity, and to make sure everyone feels included, we needed to mix things up.

We made Diversity, Equality & Inclusivity pledges

We’re not just talking about it… we’re doing it. ASquared have signed up to several DE&I pledges, and we're not shy about promoting them.

Menopause in the Workplace

  • We’re all about creating an open and supportive environment at ASquared for employees experiencing menopause. That means, recognising that the menopause is not a one-off event but a stage of a person’s life, promoting awareness to all employees, and making sure it’s not a taboo. Most importantly, ASquared have set out guidelines on how we’ll support employees undergoing the menopause (adjustments to working hours, working times, and relevant equipment).

Pregnancy and Child Loss

  • ASquared provides compassionate support and flexibility for employees dealing with pregnancy and child loss. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and about one pregnancy in 100 at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later is affected by stillbirth (MayoClinic, 2023). Depending on individual circumstances, this can be an incredibly traumatic event, so we’re committed to prioritising individual needs when considering returning to work.

Mental Health Charter

  • We’re serious when we say we prioritise mental health. At Asquared, we have real, open conversations about mental health in the workplace. We offer support to all of our employees whether they want to seek that internally or externally, but we're also here to enable them to support themselves too.

We revamped our job ads

ASquared’s job ads are intentionally now more inclusive and appealing to a wider audience, so that women feel welcomed and confident to apply. To do so, we focused on using gender-neutral language, made sure to shout about our commitment to our DE&I pledges and showcased our inclusive culture. We also actively promote our vacancies though women in tech networks, groups and spaces, because we have a responsibility to ensure we get them in front of the right people to achieve a diverse group of applicants.

Marietta (Product Designer), Sophie (Head of Growth) & Amy (Communications Executive)

We put our people first

The 'People First' ethos at ASquared is at the heart of everything we do. We believe our employees are our greatest asset. We recognise that if there's a people problem, there's a business problem. So, we're all about creating a supportive, inclusive, and engaging workplace where everyone can thrive - and be happy. If anyone’s got the “Sunday Scaries”, we know we're not doing things right!

Professional development

  • ASquared offers up to 4 hours per week of paid Professional Development Time during working hours (yep, you read that correctly!). We want everyone to keep growing professionally and we're here to support that.

Role models

  • We know how important it is for women to have role models in tech. We're proud of our team at ASquared and we're not afraid to show it. You can check out our team members on our website, learn about their career journeys, and even find out what they like to do when they're not at work (spoiler…most of us are dog lovers!).

Maternity leave

  • We speak to our employees and make sure they understand their rights at ASquared during maternity leave. If they’re worried about falling behind, or want to stay in the loop with company or project updates to prepare them for their return to work, we speak to them about taking Keeping in Touch (KIT) days (up to 10 in total, or one a month), and we plan a supportive and flexible return to work when the time comes.

Flexible working

  • ASquared has flexible working hours and remote work options which have been a game changer in accommodating different needs and lifestyles. Our team can now maintain a healthy work-life balance whether they’re a parent, a pet owner, or neither.

Wellbeing budget

  • We introduced a monthly wellbeing budget for everyone. ASquared employees can use this for gym memberships, fitness classes, mindfulness sessions, or wellbeing apps. Whichever they feel will help support their wellbeing the most!

The important thing to remember is that not every woman will face all these challenges. Supporting women in tech isn't just about looking after our current employees at ASquared. It’s about being ready to support all women, no matter what comes their way. So, let’s be proactive and have these policies and systems in place, instead of ignoring the current landscape, or worse, waiting for it to go backwards.

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