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A McKinsey article from 2023 , titled “Women in tech: The best bet to solve Europe’s talent shortage,” conducted a detailed analysis of the talent pipeline in Europe. It aimed to better understand why the region struggles to find and retain tech-talented women and determine how to best address this issue.

The analysis highlights: “A significant drop in the percentage of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes happens at two points: during the transition from primary and secondary education to university, when it drops 18 percentage points, and during the transition from university to the workforce, when it drops another 15.”

The article concludes: “To drive significant change, programs supporting women already in university STEM classes can have the most impact. Providing more and better internship opportunities, mentoring and coaching women as they prepare to enter the workforce, and actively recruiting women to work on cutting-edge projects in leadership roles, among other programs… can increase [women’s] overall numbers in tech by about 225,000–695,000.”

As many industries undergo significant digital transformation, there is a growing recognition of the pivotal roles diversity and inclusion play in fostering innovation and unlocking the full potential of the workforce. In response, organizations have started creating and fostering programs, employee resource groups, and active participation in supportive networks. In my view, these supportive networks are crucial for both men and women to exchange experiences and foster the courage they need to take on new challenges.

Furthermore, it is crucial to emphasize how important it is for all people – but for women especially – to cultivate strong professional networks and seek influential sponsors that can propel their career growth and foster new career opportunities that might otherwise remain out of reach. Particularly, women face a gap that needs to be bridged in these areas compared to their male counterparts. In this context in my opinion, men – since they are proportionally overrepresented in leadership positions – play a crucial role in mentoring women and fostering advancement opportunities for them. And of course fellow high-ranking women have a very important sponsorship role to play as well. Above all, it is worth remembering that driving change is both a collective responsibility and a shared achievement.

The Harvard Business Review IdeaCast podcastspecifically episode 884 featuring Herminia Ibarra , a professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School – explores compelling topic of how women are generally over-mentored but under-sponsored. This realization was a pivotal “aha” moment within the first cohort of the Women Leadership Program—an initiative sponsored by Altair's Women in Tech Employee Resource Group in collaboration with Harappa Education.

Certainly, diligent work and high-quality results are valuable attributes, yet they alone are not the sole prerequisites for career advancement. Achieving leadership roles takes more than just hard work. For example, cultivating a compelling personal brand and clearly demonstrating who you are and what you stand for can help people stand out in competitive environments.

And naturally, it is also essential to acknowledge that a strong work ethic and a "can-do" attitude create pathways to new opportunities. For instance, everyone knows that identifying problems is much easier than identifying solutions. Hence, leaders are always searching for people who reliably demonstrate the ability to solve problems creatively and effectively. To put this into practice, I recommend always coming to meetings prepared to present at least two potential solutions to any problem you may encounter. This proactive approach not only demonstrates your problem-solving prowess but also fosters constructive dialogue and progress within the team.

Based on my experience, the most compelling opportunities involve shared risk-taking on your part as well as on the side of those placing confidence in you. To navigate these opportunities, it’s crucial to prioritize:

  • Cultivating credibility through transparent, honest, and inclusive communication.
  • Demonstrating dependability by consistently delivering on commitments and promises with high-quality results.
  • Fostering trust, which is built upon the previous aspects and further strengthened by emotional intelligence.
  • This year, the organizers have prepared an exciting program around seven topics: Leadership, New Work, Career, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Health, and Gender Design. The congress will span two days and include various workshops, presentations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. Save the date and be part of this inspiring event!

    McKinsey & Company (2023). Women in tech: The best bet to solve Europe’s talent shortage.
    Harward Business Review Ideacast, episode 884. What We Still Misunderstand About Mentorship and Sponsorship.
    Harward Business Review IdeaCast, episode 120. Women Are Over-Mentored (But Under-Sponsored).