To say women are dramatically underrepresented in the digital sector would be putting it mildly. In the U.S. alone, women account for 59 percent of the workforce, yet represent a dismal 5 percent in tech leadership roles. Deloitte Global also predicts that by end of 2016, fewer than 25 percent of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women.
As more companies turn to CDOs to help usher in digital innovation, it would be easy to assume this hot new role would follow suit with its predecessors by illustrating another disproportionate ratio between men and women – but that is (refreshingly) not the case.
According to recent findings outlined by Gartner, over 25 percent of chief digital officers are women, nearly doubling that of female CIOs, lagging behind at 13 percent. A hopeful emergence, sure, but one that also begs the question: what factors are responsible for this gender-bending upsurge?
From marketers to decision-makers
As digital innovation continues to rewrite the rule book for business strategy, more marketing departments, where the ratio of women to men is more even keel, are embracing an increasingly symbiotic relationship with IT to gain the vital skills and insights needed to keep pace with competitors.
Inherent in understanding and connecting with the modern consumer, digital integration and marketing efforts have collided with the emergence of the CDO: a hybrid role of marketing-technology leaders who sit at the right hand of the CEO. Given the higher number of women in digital marketing and marketing leadership roles, there is a greater window of opportunity for female candidates to break the mold by segueing as executives in this relatively new space.
Equilibrium of personal and professional
The trajectory for women as CDOs is also proving to be more adaptive to professionals seeking to strike a balance between family life and higher ambitions. Digital’s fast-paced nature has long proven to be an area of contention for women. Given the rapid speed at which technologies evolve, it is hard for female tech professionals to stay in-the-know after taking a substantial leave of absence from the workforce to focus on family planning; further adding to the obstacles hindering a woman’s advancement to executive ranks.
Luckily, the road to achieving ‘CDO status’ can be carved out of multiple industry paths, from marketing and operations to finance and technology. This makes it more feasible for women who have had breaks in their careers to make it to the top of the digital totem pole, without having to come straight through the IT department.
Digital draws a crowds of all genders
The guinea pigs of the digital era, millennials were raised in an exciting time where technology has managed to bridge global gaps, spark social issues and impact political outcomes. It’s become an integral part of how they work, live and connect with the world today. As a result, more young women are embracing digitization as a path towards career advancement.
Fluent in Snapchat and proud owners of the latest iPhone to hit the shelves, today’s tech-savvy women outpace men on five of the six top social networks, and account for 72 percent of smartphone ownership. The emerging need for change agents like the CDO serves as a powerful incentive for millennials with ambitions to both lead and embrace the challenges and opportunities that technology has to offer; spurring a greater continuum of digital roles that attract young talent.
Theorem Future Perspectives
- Over the past 12 months, there has been a huge premium placed in favor of digital competencies, and that demand is only expected to strengthen as we continue to embrace new advancements in technology.
- The trajectory for a digital-forward future lends a new opportunity for women with technology, marketing and/or business skills to embrace leadership roles and drive diversity towards a more gender-neutral, C-suite composition.