Making it really easy: more women in IT means more money

After a few months of looking into the women in technology debate, something has slowly dawned on me: It needs to be made easy. Very easy. There are a lot of people who just do not get it, or don’t care. They don’t see a lack of women in science and technology workplaces as a problem.
Big IT companies haven’t really thrown their weight behind the problem, presumably because somewhere behind all the marketing talk is the secretly-held conviction that there isn’t one.
There are both women and men who think like this, and they have various reasons for doing so.
Some men (not all) suffer from simply not being able to put themselves in another’s place – if it’s not a problem that directly affects them then it’s not a problem they can conceive of.
And then there’s apathy – the idea that this is just how things are, for whatever reason, and drawing attention to it isn’t going to change it. People should stop complaining and get on with doing their jobs, because things aren’t going to change drastically in the short or medium term.
This is actually a point I sometimes get close to agreeing to. Other times, I want to yell “Where would we be if the suffragettes had thought that? You fools!” Arguing about anything with even a vaguely feminist slant to it is exhausting, and you can only make the same points a finite number of times before wanting to resort to violence. Most of the time, you do just have to get on with things and ignore your colleagues’ really funny porn or women-related jokes or the vague alienation and lack of communication that can come with being the only girl in the village.
But, irrespective of the reasons for people’s lack of understanding, the argument for more women in technology needs to be made really simple. So here’s an easy reason to get on board for those who just don’t get it: Money! Profit! Lots of lovely revenue! Amazingly enough, companies with a mixed workforce make more money, in general, than companies without. An article in the Harvard Business Review last month said that the female market has twice the potential of China and India combined. And a study by advertising consultancy Lady Geek, founded by Belinda Parmar, found there’s a possible £0.6bn up for grabs in the UK technology market alone. That’s right, you could make loads of money convincing me I need another one of your lovely laptops. If only you’d stop slapping butterflies on them and trying to tell me they’re a fashion accessory.
The money is there for the taking – if you get it right (which very few companies have yet). And what’s more, to tap into this market, you need people who are able to get it right (which very few companies are yet). If you want to make money out of women buying technology, you need more women working for you. It’s genius! I might patent this idea before the big boys catch on.
In a further extraordinary revelation, McKinsey’s 2007 “Women Matter” report showed European companies with the highest proportion of women in senior management experience better-than-average financial performance. It makes logical sense, because different types of people are likely to have different ideas. Discussion will hopefully throw up the best way of approaching something. (That’s if everyone is capable of communicating and discussing things properly, which is admittedly a fairly big if.) There’s a steady stream of articles and books backing up the claim that mixed teams do better.
It doesn’t get simpler than that: more women in technology companies means more money. Until the big technology companies cotton on and start to actually do something, my services as a management consultant are available for the excellent price of £9,000 an hour.