Earlier this week I attended a Guardian Masterclass event hosted by Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. The purpose of the event was to discuss how to write for the female audience. The subjects addressed by magazines like Cosmopolitan broadly fall into three categories – beauty, fashion and relationships – and content usually takes on a different tone depending on whether it has been written by a man or a woman.
What does this have to do with an IT security and connectivity specialist like Infradata, I hear you ask (go on, you know you were going to!). The answer is, more than you’d think.
There is a gaping gulf of a gender gap in the IT industry, with current estimates suggesting that less than 25% of IT professionals in developed countries are female. And yet, in many cases it is women whose lives are increasingly being played out on the digital stage. According to the Pew Research centre, 74% of internet users are using social media, with women (76%) having an edge over men (72%).
Without wishing to fall foul of gender stereotyping, women are naturally more inclined to share the intimate details of their lives online. We like to communicate, and we often do so in an informal, chatty and more personal way.
Farrah highlighted five key pillars as essential when writing for women – tone, twist, trend, takeaway and trust. All of these elements are important in delivering value through content, and although there may be slight differences in how each one is implemented, I’d argue that these pillars are important to men and women alike.
Simply put, we all respond to insights into social trends, we all love a twist in the tale and, amidst a news agenda dominated by fake news, we all benefit from honest and factual information delivered by genuine experts. Perhaps most importantly, both sexes remember those pieces of content that were actually worth reading because they made our lives – working or otherwise – easier.
Changing the tone of the content that we, as IT professionals, create to be more inclusive to women may seem like a small step on the journey to increasing the number of females working in the industry. But it is an important part of the wider diversity drive.
I am lucky enough to work for a UK technology company headed up by a female managing director with an employee base that is almost 50% female. From first-hand experience I can attest that different backgrounds and perspectives are essential to challenging the status quo and creating an entrepreneurial culture within any organisation. Considering both sexes, and adjusting the tone of the content we create accordingly, seems like an excellent place to start.