We’ve been witnessing a strong transformation at VOLO for the past several years in terms of women’s participation in tech. While the number of women in IT worldwide has been staying consistently low during the past several years, in the last year alone, the percentage of women in our workforce grew from 34% to 41%. For perspective, that number is close to 30% in the US.
The important thing to understand is that tech isn’t just about programming. Many women think that software engineering is the only entry ticket into this booming industry, but there’s so much more. Marketing, design, management, finance — all have their place in tech.
Lack of Role Models?
Seeing is believing. When people see others like them do great things, they are inspired to do the same — the idea of achieving something no longer seems out of reach. There are a handful of powerful women leaders in tech like Sheryl Sandberg and Ginny Rometty, who do their part in leading the charge in getting more women to join IT. Yet, for many girls, it can be a real struggle to find a connection between themselves and the C-suite of companies like Facebook and IBM.
Women need more real, relatable role models, who are able to succeed on their own terms. Otherwise, a lot of young potential is lost when girls don’t even consider tech as a future career path. So throughout Women’s History Month, we are going to run a campaign with a series of images of strong, talented, independent women in tech, who also happen to be working at VOLO.
For too long the tech industry was perceived to be masculine territory. The reasons for that are far and many and range from preconceived notions about male vs. female intelligence when it comes to math and science, women’s struggle to achieve a work/life balance, etc.
Now for industry insiders these stereotypes don’t really hold water, but for teenagers contemplating about their future professions, they play such a strong role, that they don’t even question them.
The picture is even gloomier in Armenia. Stereotypes are big here. IT was long seen as an industry for young men with exceptional aptitude for math — a notion, which still prevents a lot of women and men from joining the industry. In the words of one of our technical leads, Nune Darbinyan, “One of the biggest challenges for a woman to enter the IT sector is mentality. Many people still do not consider this field appropriate for a girl, rather associating it with some super-clever, geeky boys. With glasses. And untamed beards.”
The vast majority of girls are to this day encouraged to pursue “lady-like” careers in nursing, teaching, translation, customer service and the like. Many young women end up not using their college degrees altogether after getting married and having children.
Lately, however, with the continued surge of the tech industry in Armenia, more and more women are becoming aware of the potential of this field and what it can do for their careers. With the demystification of stereotypes comes the great realization that IT is the industry where women can prosper, because it offers nearly limitless opportunities for growth and development as a professional.
Better Business Performance
In VOLO, having more women on the team isn’t just about promoting equality — it’s good for business.
1. Stronger financial performance
A number of studies have shown that gender-diverse companies are more profitable than those who aren’t. This idea extends to top management as well. According to a Catalyst report, companies with the highest representation of women in their leadership teams tend to perform better financially.
2. More creativity
The multitude of viewpoints of gender-diverse teams results in the generation of more innovative ideas. When people from different backgrounds and contexts work together, it leads to better problem-solving and creativity.
3. Healthier company culture
Having more women on the team makes for a cozier, more engaging company culture. It means more get-togethers, coffee with home-made pastries, and more empathy in the workplace.
4. Improved recruitment
We want to hire the best, so we keep the door open to everyone. Candidates are increasingly more interested in companies that make diversity a priority and encourage employees to develop and succeed together.
How We Do Our Part
1. Support working moms
The unfortunate reality is that women who get pregnant are often told to “keep it to themselves as long as possible” at work for the fear of missing out on a promotion or a new project. It’s not surprising, then, that many women decide to leave the field altogether and don’t come back to work after having children.
“We understand the struggle women face with regards to balancing their responsibilities at home and at work, so we work together with them to make the transition as smooth as possible. Each case requires an individual approach, so we sit down together and come up with a plan of action that is most comfortable for all involved, be it an extended maternity leave, the opportunity to work part time, or working remotely until they are ready to come back on board full time,” says Stella Hovhannisyan, the HR Manager of VOLO Armenia.
2. Career development and advancement
By investing in the growth and development of our employees, we ensure that each individual has the tools he needs to be successful. We chart clear pathways for advancements and foster various education initiatives, so that all our employees feel engaged and thriving.
Armenia Needs More Tech Talent. Period.
While IT continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the Armenian economy, it’s no secret that there’s a dire shortage of qualified professionals in the market. If we, as a country, are to remain competitive in this sphere, we need more people to join the industry. Why not harness the power of our greatest untapped resource — our women and girls?
According to Volo’s Co-Founder and CEO Armen Kocharyan, “As in times of war, when women stepped up and took over ‘men’s work’ in order to prevent the stifling of the economy, now is the time for more Armenian women to join this industry and realize their potential. The success of Armenian tech and the economy at large depends on that.”