Is there Gender Bias with Training and Technology?

Gender bias has always been a debatable and yet interesting topic till today and we are not surprised to see it being associated with a number of disciples around us. Training and technology is also not excluded from this scenario and we often come across “gender bias “in the industry somehow or the other. The readings related to it in last few days compelled me to explore this topic with a hope that it might help us coming up with some more improvisation in training and technology strategy development for the corporate sector. With some good findings at hand, I thought of sharing this post with you.

I was asked in one of the recent training sessions to help address a technology startup gender bias question. What was specifically troubling regarding this topic is that the entire question around the gender in the training and technology industry is not the one which I have looked into much, mainly because of the reason that throughout my career I got the privilege of working with a number of senior executive who are women. Anyways, let’s examine it through my research lens.

In 2014, around 9000 KPMG employees were invited to have a class action lawsuit against the issue alleging they were paid less than their male counterparts, in violation of the United States Equal Pay Act[1]. This gender discrimination seems to prevail in many training and development organizations as well. Women seem to stay underrepresented in most of the high level grades and positions. They make for less than 5 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs, less than 15 percent of the executive officers and around 20 percent of full professors in the field of natural sciences. As per one of the recent reports published by the New York Times, women make around only 17 percent of the Google’s engineering personnel and 21 percent of the managers[2]. The report took into consideration the giants like Google and various industries all over the world, therefore, it is not possible for us to avoid the possibility of gender bias presence in the training and technology industry as well.

I would not like to be quite specific here and would see gender bias on a more general and comprehensive level, associating it with my field of concern i.e. training and technology. One possible reason I could find behind such drastic gender inequalities is that these are resulted by the unconscious biases. These biases that social scientists have revealed to be present in the society, are deeply penetrated in our tendency to be based on cognitive shortcuts, also called stereotypes to process any incoming information.

As hidden and reflexive preferences, the biases shape the industry trends worldwide. Majority of them like preferring eating food rather than bricks, are helpful. However others can pull towards the rash decisions and the discrimination when were are unaware of them and implement them in an improper way. Bias against any person triggers at the first point of contact, like the first meeting and keeps on growing with each integration[3]. In the work place, especially at the time of training sessions and development programs, biases can greatly and profoundly impact how welcoming a company is in terms of training and development for its people and their ideas on an equality basis. In some of the organizations, I have encountered the problem of gender oriented training objectives and content. Even many of the trainers and development strategists unconsciously take into consideration the male gender while determining training objectives, needs, existing skills evaluation and potential skills development[4]. Being a professional and experienced corporate trainer, I strongly recommend to make gender as one of the most important and critical factors to consider while developing the corporate training objectives and incorporation of innovative technological tools for their implementation.

Some organizations also actively try to raise the awareness of potentially negative impacts of gender biases via training programs and related policies that support gender equality in the workplaces. Training industry, in view of this increasing trend, is shifting its focus to some new dimensions where gender equality is one of the great perspective to work at[5]. One of the instances in this regard is of Google. Google has been in an attempt to decrease the bias and enhance the diversity of its employees for last few years through development programs that are aimed at enhancing the women representation in technology based jobs and carefully determining the way it is designing and implementing its training policies. Though traditionally, the technology and training industry seems lacking behind tackling the gender bias, however, recent scenarios as discussed show the changes going on a gradual but constant base, and in future, I see at least 50 percent of the technology and training startups led by the women CEOs and training executive officers.

[1] http://www.genderbiasbingo.com/teaching-and-training-gender-bias-2/#.VvoE8-J97IU
[2] https://www.trainingindustry.com/workforce-development/articles/gender-bias-in-the-workplace.aspx
[3] https://hbr.org/2014/10/ending-gender-discrimination-requires-more-than-a-training-program
[4] http://time.com/3705454/teachers-biases-girls-education/
[5] http://smallbusiness.chron.com/implications-gender-bias-workplace-2865.html

Copyright 2016 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.  Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes.

For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive.

Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City.

He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should ‘engage and inspire’ students to greater productivity and performance.

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