Tech’s Glass Ceiling as Women Still Struggle to Reach the C-Suite

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Despite gains at the top of the tech ladder, women remain underrepresented in C-suite-level roles.

According to the Women in the Workplace Report 2023 from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, over the past five years, there has been notable progress, with the number of women in the C-suite increasing by 27% (+6 percentage points) since 2018.

This encouraging trend underscores continued efforts to promote gender diversity at the leadership level.

Key Takeaways

  • Despite gains in recent years, women remained underrepresented in tech C-suite roles, holding only 28% of these positions in 2023, with women of color making up just 6%.
  • Companies that effectively leverage diversity by incorporating identity-related knowledge into business processes see better team performance and innovation.
  • The “Great Breakup” trend, where senior-level women leave at higher rates, highlights the critical issue of retaining diverse talent, exacerbating the underrepresentation of women, especially women of color, in senior roles.

However, the overall picture reflects persisting obstacles; at the beginning of 2023, women accounted for only 28% of C-suite positions.

White women dominated this group with 22%, while women of color held only 6% of the roles, meaning that women made up roughly 1 in every 4 C-suite leaders in technology, with women of color accounting for only 1 in every 17.

This highlights a key gap in not only gender diversity but also racial diversity within gender representation.

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The Benefits of Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

It has been proven, time and time again, that companies that leverage diversity get the true and full benefits of a varied workforce.

Leveraging diversity entails not only recruiting and retaining more people from underrepresented groups but also using their identity-related knowledge and experiences as resources for learning how the organization can improve its core work – i.e. incorporating them into business processes rather than using them to demonstrate the company’s apparent inclusivity.

These organizations embrace their employees’ many points of view and do not suppress them for the sake of group cohesion, which leads to employees rethinking how work is done and how to best achieve their goals.

Ultimately, the research demonstrates that when organizations follow this diversity and inclusion strategy, their teams perform better than teams made up of the same types of people or diverse teams that do not choose to benefit from their members’ differences.

However, inclusion cannot happen without diversity, and vice versa—they go hand in hand.

The so-called “Great Breakup” trend, in which women at senior levels leave their positions at faster rates than men, particularly highlights this problem.

The Bottom Line

The challenges of retaining diverse talent, likely due to a lack of inclusion, limit the pool of potential female applicants for C-suite positions, further exacerbating the underrepresentation of women, especially women of color, in senior leadership roles.

In conclusion, until companies address the inequity head-on, women will remain underrepresented in tech leadership positions—with women of color mostly absent from the C-suite.

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Maria Webb
Technology Journalist
Maria Webb
Technology Journalist

Maria is a technology journalist with over five years of experience with a deep interest in AI and machine learning. She excels in data-driven journalism, making complex topics both accessible and engaging for her audience. Her work is prominently featured on Techopedia, Business2Community, and Eurostat, where she provides creative technical writing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and a Master of Science in Strategic Management and Digital Marketing from the University of Malta. Maria's background includes journalism for Newsbook.com.mt, covering a range of topics from local events to international tech trends.