There’s a problem in the tech industry that directly affects you and me. Out of all the amazing job opportunities in the field today, only 26% are filled by women like us. That can be a discouraging statistic for a young woman considering where to take her future, but it’s important to address and not brush under the rug. Despite the sector’s prominent gender disparity, the future is actually very bright for women in technology.
STEM Education Opportunities are Abundant
Here’s another unsettling statistic: 66% of girls under 12 are interested in computer science, but by the time they become college freshman that number plummets to just 4%. Why is that? Historically, there has been a lack of support and encouragement for females pursuing technology careers. It’s time that changes, especially for Generation Z. The tech field is a phenomenal one for any gender. It’s exciting to be a part of because it’s truly shaping the world, and tech pros are in strong demand.
Since ATR is based in Silicon Valley, we are fortunate. This area’s prominent universities are setting a positive example. Stanford undergraduate women receiving computer science degrees jumped from 11% in 2010 to 31% last year, and UC Berkeley doubled from 11% to 22% in that same timeframe. Schools everywhere should take note. STEM majors in colleges rose 43% between 2009 and 2015 which is a positive sign, but as STEM degrees rise so too must the number of women stepping into those disciplines.
Companies are Looking to Diversify
Currently, CIO positions in Fortune 500 companies are only 17% women, and the percentage of women at tech giants like Google and Facebook is under 18%. Further, when looking at women of color such as Hispanic or African Americans, we only hold 3% or less of all tech jobs. However, one reason the future is so promising for women in technology is because there’s a growing focus on underrepresented groups like ours in tech, something ATR has championed for years.
Today’s companies are actively looking to diversify their workforces, if for no other reason than society is demanding it. When an organization is comprised nearly entirely of Caucasian men it flat out looks bad, even if it wasn’t intentional. Tech firms are recognizing that a strong female presence is a differentiator and are trying more and more to include us in their workforces. For females applying for IT roles, this is long overdue but welcomed.
Support Networks are Growing
Here’s the thing: as women in technology, nothing will be handed to us. We have to work hard and stick together, but luckily there is a vast support network available no matter where you’re located. Some popular organizations include:
- Girls Who Code
- Women in Technology International (WITI)
- Women in Technology (WIT)
- The National Center for Women & Information Technology
And the list goes on. Many organizations have their own conferences and are great ways to connect female IT professionals with their peers and new opportunities. Locally for ATR, Girls in Tech has a great conference this June in San Francisco, and Women of Silicon Valley holds one of the world’s largest women in tech events. There are countless meetup groups across the world, such as this Women Programmers group with over 200,000 members. Finally, many resources are freely available right from your computer, such as these recordings from the Global Tech Women 2018 conference. No matter your interest or niche, there’s a resource to help your future or ongoing tech career.
There are Many Examples to Follow
As women in IT, we need female figures in the industry to look up to and feel inspired by. Thankfully, there are many. Firstly, there is the usual roundup of prominent women IT executives: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Google’s Senior VP of Marketing Lorraine Twohill. But there are many more inspirational figures than that much closer to home.
Successful women in technology reside in every corner of the industry. They’re in your community and mine. They could be lesser-known young women quietly moving up like Full-Stack Developer Samantha Davis, or they might be a peer or manager within your office. I personally find great joy in mentoring other women I encounter in the industry and encourage you to seek out anyone and everyone in your network to find that great sounding board and confidant who can help your career.
The Future Is Bright for Women in Technology
Some of the brightest tech minds I’ve seen during my career have been those of women. As more organizations wake up to this same fact and as resources for underrepresented demographics increase, I know things are looking up for women in technology. Currently, the industry is suffering from a dramatic skills shortage. This is our opportunity to rise up and fill the roles that are there for the taking. Let’s not waste it.
If you’re a woman looking to move your tech career forward, we’d love to work with you. Reach out to us today to get the conversation started.