The work, ideas, and influence that women bring to the world of tech can have a huge influence on companies, products, ideas, and coworkers. A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings.” Having more women on the front line of the tech industry can create a beautiful diversity with new ideas and perspectives. At the start of a new decade, we can look back at all of our amazing tech accomplishments, led by both men and women. We can also look forward and ask, “what can we do to create a more inclusive, thriving, and impactful tech industry? Even with the amazing positive strides forward for women in technology, we’re still at the beginning of the race. Let’s take a look at some smart, successful women in tech, the facts and stats about gender in tech today, and some quick tips for empowering women in STEM fields.
Gender Stats in Tech Today
You can see just from stepping inside most offices that a lot of workplaces are not a gender-equal staff. While sometimes this is due to skill sets and qualifications, sometimes the women that are just as qualified are overlooked simply for being a woman.
Only 26% of computing jobs are held by women. This number has been on a steady decline for years. Along with that, the turnover rate is more than twice as high for women than it is for men in tech industry jobs — 41% versus 17%. Fifty-six percent of women in tech are leaving their employers mid-career. Of the women who leave, 24% off-ramp and take a non-technical job in a different company; 22% become self-employed in a tech field; 20% take time out of the workforce; and 10% go to work with a startup company. Also, from 1980 to 2010, 88% of all information technology patents were by male-only invention teams, while 2% were by female-only invention teams.
Empowering Women in STEM
Computer science is a crucial skill needed in the 21st century. Knowledge of computer science is foundational. Both young girls and boys should get exposure in coding and technology to create a more excited generation of young, confident coders.
- Start young students early (even infancy isn’t too soon) with books, games (here is an amazing female-created one!), and classes. Here’s an awesome and inclusive list of 70 online coding resources for you to browse.
- Get girls to participate in the Hour of Code campaign. It’s helped students to write more than 23 billion lines of code. 49% of the students participating were girls. That’s what we like to hear!
- Introduce them to positive female role models and mentors in technology (like supermodel Karlie Kloss, who advocates for women in tech and created a national coding camp for girls).
- Get involved and sponsor clubs, classes, camps, or other opportunities for girls.
- Learn about leadership and initiative from programs like Girl Develop It, TechGirlz, Within, Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Women in Technology.
A large part of the importance of introducing more women to the world of technology is getting an entirely different opinion and perspective on new ideas and products. By not having many women in this specific workforce, it means that many products that are part of our daily lives have been developed without input from women – a large portion of the population. Adding diversity into STEM occupations simply results in increased creativity and innovation fueled by different perspectives about issues and how to solve them. The AAUW report “Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing” states “Women’s experiences—along with men’s experiences—should inform and guide the direction of engineering and technical innovation. We simply can’t afford to ignore the perspectives of half the population in future engineering and technical designs.” Having a more gender-diverse workforce in STEM careers could help our country progress through challenging each other and opening up our minds to more opinions. A big step in gaining more women in STEM careers is also teaching girls from a young age that tech doesn’t have to mean only coding and software.
“The first step is helping girls understand that ‘tech’ does not necessarily mean coding or software development. The nature of work in America has changed so dramatically over the past decade that nearly every career touches on tech in some way. So being a woman in tech can range from robotics to gaming to mobile to online marketing. If you delve deeper, you realize that tech is fundamentally reshaping even more traditional industries like manufacturing or farming. Of course, coding is still a great career option, but as all women know, one size does not fit all. We need to reframe the conversation of what it means to be a technologist so that more girls can get excited and embrace a career in the field.”– Tracey Welson-Rossman, CMO of Chariot Solutions & advocate for women in technology
Expanding women’s representation in engineering, tech, and computing will require effort from employers, educational institutions, policy makers, parents, and individuals to create environments that are truly welcoming for women. Having a more broad, diverse perspective will help the tech industry thrive. If you want to learn more, or get involved, check out this great research piece called Why So Few by the AAUW, about changing policies and practices to increase opportunities in STEM for girls and women.