When it comes to the Women In Tech conversation, the dialogue is often left to the women. It’s equally important for men in the workplace to join in the conversation and help contribute to these workplace initiatives.
Jason Mitchell is a VP of Engineering at Ivanti with a background in software development. In his career, including twelve years at Ivanti, he has advocated for the importance of gender equality and women in technology. We sat down with Jason to get his perspective and advice about Ivanti’s women in tech movement.
Q: Why are you passionate about empowering women in technology?
JM: This is a business problem more than anything. Software development is about applying creativity and critical thinking to solving problems. Research shows collective intelligence of a team outperforms individual abilities and the number of women on the team is positively correlated with the collective capabilities of the team.
At Ivanti, we have over 60 software development teams in engineering, and few of those teams have women. For Ivanti to compete at the highest levels, we must recruit more women for our technology teams.
Q: What advice do you have for companies as they strive to promote gender equality?
JM: It starts with awareness. In this day in age, it’s less common to see overt discrimination, but implicit bias is everywhere, and we all have biases. Studies show that due to our cultural upbringing, we all suffer from the bias and stereotypes for women in technology, both women and men. But we don’t realize when these biases affect our decisions at work around hiring.
An often cited excuse for not hiring more women is that the hiring manager wanted to hire the “best candidate for the job,” but this kind of statement doesn’t account for the implicit bias that may have led the hiring manager to incorrectly believe that a man was better suited than a women or the effect that having a women on the team can do for the overall team’s performance
We need to consciously make efforts to reduce the effect of implicit bias in our hiring. We need to educate ourselves and others on the benefits of more women in technology and the impact our biases have on limiting that from happening.
I am proud of the diversity initiatives happening at Ivanti. We have signed the ParityPledge, we participate in STEM activities, and we sponsor WomenHack. We discuss both internally and externally the gender diversity disparity at Ivanti, which shows that we acknowledge the gender inequality gap and are willing to work on it.
Q: What advice do you have for women working to break into or advance in the technology industry?
JM: There are limitless opportunities in technology, and research shows having women on our technology teams improves the performance of those teams. Due to implicit bias, we are a long way from an equal playing field for women.
Studies show that women are not treated equally in terms of evaluation of performance, advancement, and compensations, which can be discouraging. But, I encourage all women to persist the current inequalities, because your efforts are paving the way for future women in technology. We need more role models and mentors for women in tech. On behalf of my three daughters, I am grateful for all the women who persist in areas of STEM despite the difficulties.
Q: How can men help support women in technology initiatives?
JM: Men need to actively work to become self-aware of their own implicit bias. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Much of our values and habits are born of our social environment. But, we owe it to ourselves and our children to constantly work to become the best version of ourselves.
Q: Any final thoughts?
JM: There are no intellectual differences between women and men that make women less suited for technology jobs, only cultural constraints and stereotypes imposed by society. For example, when reading books to my daughters, I noticed that an unequal proportion of books are focused on male characters, including most of the Dr. Seuss books. Toys, cartoons, and media everywhere are reinforcing bad stereotypes for women.
To remove stereotypes for my daughters, my wife and I work hard to present a world where men and women are on an equal playing field, set the best example we can of gender equality, and search for books and toys that promote gender equality.