As the world continues to evolve, so does the business workplace. With all the business world's advances and improvements, women (especially black and hispanic women) continue to be underrepresented. For example, there are currently 41 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and only 2 of them are black women.
The underrepresentation of women is especially prevalent in tech. The technology industry is rapidly advancing, and its growth was accelerated by seven years due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Gender diversity within tech companies still lags behind, and it is still a male-dominated industry. Women in technology statistics show that women hold only twenty-six percent of tech jobs, and the percentage has decreased over the last couple of years.
This article will cover the current state of women in tech. Moreover, it will discuss 5 ways to help women close the gender gap, thrive in the computer science and tech industry workforce, and improve gender equality.
A Closer Look at the Statistics
In order to assess the current state of gender diversity among tech companies, it's important to look at some of the most significant women in tech industry and technology statistics.
Women account for 26.7% of the tech workforce
The United States has come a long way in supporting and advancing women in the labor force. In fact, more than half of all workers are female employees. These numbers are not reflected in the technology industry, as women hold far less positions in the tech field. There is still much progress to be made.
Women hold a mere 10.9% of senior leadership or CEO positions in tech
Research by McKinsey & Company shows that for every 100 men promoted to a manager position, only 72 women are promoted. They came up with the phrase "the broken rung" in order to describe this phenomenon. It refers to how the first step up to manager is the biggest obstacle women face while climbing the ladder to senior leadership positions.
Women in tech earn less money than men
Studies show that women in tech make on average 10% less than men in the field make, and the gender pay gap is not exclusive to the tech industry. Women are generally found to be paid less than men in almost every industry and sector. The gender pay gap within the tech industry averages the same as the rest of the United States.
Women hold just one in four software development positions
With the tech industry rapidly growing and changing, there is potential for more tech positions. However, only 20% of bachelor's degrees in computer science are awarded to women. If this trend continues, the amount of women in tech is not likely to increase.
Women in tech are twice as likely to be laid off than their male counterparts
Before the year 2020, trends showed that men were more likely to be laid off than women. This switched during the recession from the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only were women in tech more likely to be laid off, but they saw more reduced hours and furloughs.
Half of women in tech report inequality, discrimination, or harassment in their place of work
Among the 50% of women surveyed who report having experienced some form of gender bias, sexual harassment, or gender discrimination, 20% of them have resigned from a position in the past. The mentality that STEM fields are for "boys only" still exists today, and is reflected in the number of women who experience unwelcoming environments.
The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Women in Tech
Over the years, advances in gender equality were being made in the technology industry and computer science workforce, and the proportion of women in tech roles was slowly but surely increasing. However, when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, women were disproportionately affected and it set back much of the progress that had been made.
In the beginning months of the pandemic, 865,000 women left the workforce compared to 216,000 men. This is a major contributor to why the percentage of women in technology has decreased over the last few years.
Women typically take on most of the responsibility when it comes to childcare, chores, and caregiving, and the pandemic only served to increase these heavy burdens. Sixty-three percent of working mothers in tech reported that they were responsible for their children's homeschooling on top of their full-time jobs during stay-at-home orders.
The effects of the pandemic were not all negative though. Working remotely was a relatively easy transition for software developers and those with a tech career compared to many others, due to the nature of their work. It gave female employees more autonomy and flexibility, and many tech companies have continued to encourage remote work or hybrid schedules. This has promoted a healthier work-life balance and decreased the chances of burnout for women in technology.
Cause of Gender Disparities in Tech
Why is the gender gap larger in the tech industry than in others? Why is the tech sector still typically seen as a "boys-only" environment and struggles to employ women?
It starts as far back as early education. The belief and bias that men belong in science and math while women belong in arts and humanities still exist today, and is instilled in children from a young age. Boys are more likely to be encouraged to take interest in STEM subjects than girls.
This idea persists at the college level as well. Women are less exposed to higher education in STEM majors or job opportunities than men, and are less likely to pursue computer science degrees as a result. Those who do consider higher education may often find there are few female faculty to support and mentor them. The lack of female role models in the field is a significant factor in why there are fewer female students in computer science.
With fewer women graduating with computer science degrees, the "bro-culture" stereotype trickles into the workplace. This places women at a disadvantage, and they have to work much harder than their male counterparts and face more obstacles to getting a promotion. It’s even more challenging for women of color.
Why Gender Diversity is Critical
Having a fair representation of men and women in the tech industry is important and beneficial for job seekers, current employees, and even businesses themselves.
Having equal representation of women makes tech companies more appealing and welcoming to potential future employees. Three out of four job seekers state that a diverse workplace is an important factor in evaluating companies and job offers. Tech companies that embrace a diverse workforce are less likely to miss out on qualified talent because more women and people of color will want to fill their tech positions.
Gender diversity fosters an inclusive and positive work environment where all employees feel welcomed and respected. When female software engineers are as valued, trusted, and supported as their male coworkers, the entire team benefits. A happy team is more motivated to perform well than a discontented one.
A diverse labor force provides varied perspectives and more innovation. The tech industry is led by innovation and is always evolving. When women hold positions in tech and are included and encouraged to contribute, it can lead to great new ideas and progress.
Companies that have women in leadership positions consistently outperform those companies who do not. They have above-average profitability and have shown higher rates of success. This proves that it is not enough to enact inclusion initiatives purely for marketing strategies or compliance. Having many women as tech leaders is a crucial factor of success for a business.
Closing the Gender Gap
There is still much progress to be made for women working within tech careers. Much of the responsibility falls on tech companies to bridge the gap. Those in leadership positions need to implement initiatives and procedures to support their female employees and provide equal opportunities.
Where to Start
This can be achieved through various solutions, starting with a thorough evaluation of the company's current state. Asking employees how they would rate the diversity in their workplace is a sure way of receiving first-hand, honest feedback.
Businesses should also seek a detailed understanding about the challenges and barriers women in tech face in their careers. It can be helpful to invest in training on how to reduce gender bias in the recruitment and hiring process, as well as how to support current female workers.
Every tech company needs to ensure they provide equal opportunities in all areas. This includes mentoring programs, professional development, and job promotions - especially for leadership positions. Establishing equal pay is also highly important.
While it is mostly up to tech companies to work hard to pave a better way for women in technology, it can take time to make significant progress. Women can take proactive steps in order to make improvements and succeed in tech roles. Here are five suggestions to help women thrive in the tech industry:
Speak up and let your voice be heard. If you have an idea, if you disagree with something, or if there's an area that needs improvement, don't be afraid to say something. Your opinion and point of view matter.
It can be intimidating to voice your thoughts during meetings or to people in leadership positions. Brushing up on your communication abilities will help to build your confidence and competence. Learning to speak publicly and articulate your thoughts clearly can help you in all professional fields.
Having strong communication skills also includes having good listening skills. Active listening is a powerful tool that involves listening attentively, understanding what is said, responding to the speaker, and retaining the information. If you are able to articulate yourself well and attentively listen to others, you will present yourself as a valuable voice to be heard. It's also an important skill when being considered for a management position.
Create a support system within your place of work. Especially in the tech sector where there are fewer women than men, it's important to have people around you to provide support and encouragement. Look for other women in tech roles who can share their own experiences and validate your own.
Find a good mentor that you trust and respect. You don't have to navigate your career in the tech industry all on your own. Weak management support can make your job much more difficult. A mentor can share their past experiences, give advice, serve as a sounding board, and help to identify growth opportunities. Having a strong professional connection with someone who is more advanced in their career can be highly beneficial for moving up in your company or applying to a new one.
While surrounding yourself with other women in technology is necessary, it's also helpful to collaborate with male coworkers as well. It's not just women's responsibility to improve diversity in tech jobs. Men can be effective advocates and may be able to share influence and resources to support you.
Don't allow for self-doubt to impede your progress. Working in a male-dominated industry means that you may be the only woman on a project or in a room. This can be intimidating, and women in technology may find themselves questioning whether they belong.
The majority of women in executive positions - seventy-five percent - report that they experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. Imposter syndrome is when an individual has self-doubt, feels incompetent, and fears being exposed as a fraud. The pressure can take a toll on performance and well-being.
To combat self-doubt, look at the facts that support why you deserve to be in your role. Celebrate your current and past successes and achievements. Remember that you earned your seat at the table and that women technologists are needed. Allow your mistakes to be learning experiences that help you grow instead of failures of which you're ashamed.
Welcome Constructive Criticism
Receiving negative feedback can be difficult. It's easy to dwell on it and be discouraged. Don't let it hold you back from taking future risks or following your ambitions. Instead of allowing it to distract you from your goals, see it as a chance to learn and grow.
Constructive criticism can give you a clear direction on what to do better next time. It can fuel you to take on the next challenge with even more confidence and creativity if you embrace it as such.
If you find that you rarely receive feedback, either positive or negative, don't be afraid to ask for some. Consider requesting it not only from your manager but from your colleagues. Team members have a different perspective than supervisors which can bring new insight into your performance.
Never stop learning and growing throughout your career. Expand your skill set and keep your knowledge up-to-date, whether it's programming languages or frameworks. Whenever possible, try to take advantage of every learning and development opportunity that presents itself.
Take time to explore different interests and passions within your tech career. Having a wide range of abilities can potentially open up new positions or roles to help you rise within the company. If there is a specific direction you want your career to take, seek to gain knowledge and experience that will lead toward it.
Although women in technology are underrepresented and oftentimes undervalued, having a successful and fulfilling career is possible and promising. More and more women are making strides toward representation in tech jobs and changing the workplace for future female software engineers.
If you are a software developer seeking an inclusive, diverse workplace, consider working as a contract developer for Talentcrowd. Talentcrowd is a hiring platform that matches outsourced development teams with clients. All team members are thoroughly vetted and hand-selected for each individual project and client to ensure a positive work experience for everyone involved. Developers work fully remote which promotes a healthy work-life balance.
Talentcrowd offers guidance, resources, and support to all their developers and are intentional in building community and careers. They have a 97% retention rate which speaks to how well they care for their software engineers.
There is still much progress to be made. However, more women are paving the way for future generations of female software engineers to find their place in the industry. When women are given equal access to opportunities in tech jobs, not only do they thrive but so do the business and other employees.
Closing the gender gap is not impossible. Communicating, building community, being confident, welcoming criticism, and cultivating skills are simple ways to start, and hopefully those five tips are helpful and inspiring.
For those looking for a clear path forward with diversity in their workplace, consider applying for a position with Talentcrowd as a contract developer for an inclusive, supportive work experience.