Skip to main content.
Blogs - March 20, 2024

After International Women’s Day, the real work begins 

Clare Hodcroft, Pragmatic’s VP People

International Women’s Day provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements. And it is important to celebrate how very far we’ve come because, as the saying goes, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. Women need to see other women’s success.  

This is especially true in the technology sector – a world that’s notoriously male-dominated. Showcasing the women who are at the top of their game provides inspiration for those at the beginning of their career.  

But once the celebrations are over, it’s time to roll our sleeves up and ask how we can keep the needle moving in the right direction. How can we shift the gender balance in tech? 

Tackling the tech gender gap 

While estimates vary, it’s broadly agreed that less than three in 101 workers in the technology sector are women. This is a problem, because the case for diversity is clear: research by McKinsey2 shows that gender-diverse companies significantly outperform their peers – and ethnic diversity boosts the performance delta still further. 

At Pragmatic, 40 per cent of the operations group, which includes engineering and engineering support roles, are women. However, while this is a great achievement – and significantly higher than the industry average – we can’t sit back and relax. Fewer than one in five employees in core engineering roles are women. There is still work to be done.  

So why is it so hard to recruit women?  

While it’s true that unconscious bias may play a role in individual cases, research from PwC3 suggests that we may also need to look back down the talent pipeline. A survey of over 2,000 A-Level and university students showed that 78 per cent could not name a single famous female working in technology.  

If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.  

But once women are recruited to the tech industry, it’s not all plain sailing: research shows that only 52 women are promoted to manager level for every 100 men. Perhaps as a result, 92% of the upper pay quartile are men4 – and more than half of women5 are likely to quit the sector before the age of 35. 

Eradicating bias and fixing workplace culture 

Cultivating an inclusive work culture is key to retaining female workers. This is conceptually simple but requires considered and consistent implementation, with all employees acting as advocates. Approaches should be holistic, spanning everything from ensuring all committees have at least one female member to giving women the same training and development opportunities as their male counterparts. 

Unconscious bias affecting promotion is difficult to quantify, but women across the workforce – not just the technology sector – are 14% less likely to be promoted each year. This is because women are consistently judged as having less leadership potential than their male counterparts6. Objectively, women have to work harder to move up the ladder.  

Furthermore, men are often promoted on their potential whereas women are promoted on experience – so advancement takes longer.  

Empowering employees to drive change 

Naturally, this is something we want to address within Pragmatic. And while we don’t have all the answers yet, we’re looking to our employees to help us get it right. We’re in the process of creating employee resource groups (ERGs), for example – employee-led groups that support inclusivity in the workplace and aim to foster a sense of belonging.  

ERGs aren’t just for women; they’re typically led and participated in by employees who share a particular characteristic, such as gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation or lifestyle. They provide a safe space for employees to share their challenges and experiences, and a forum to advocate for change. But they also give us – the employer – a greater understanding of the issues our people face, and help us shape policies and programmes to directly address their needs. 

We’ve also initiated a development programme for Female Leaders in Technology, empowering women to become confident, influential leaders who, in turn, empower other women.  

Because change takes time. It’s an ongoing process. And while International Women’s Day is the rightful celebration of women excelling in their field, I look forward to a day where we don’t need gender-specific achievements as a lever for parity; when women are just engineers, rather than ‘female engineers’; and when diversity, equity and inclusion – for all groups and communities – are a standard part of daily working life.  

At Pragmatic, we’re just at the start of our journey, but we’re committed to working hard to achieve that.  

2. How diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) matter, McKinsey


Stay connected with Pragmatic