Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Are Women Underrepresented in Tech? | How Do We Move Towards Equality In Technology?


Here are some statistics about women in tech:
  •    Women made up only 26% of the computing workforce in 2013 (US)

That statistic is from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, who broke down the statistic even more;

Only 3% were black women, only 5% were Asian women and only 2% were Hispanic women.
  •          Google’s workforce is only 30% female

They released this information in May, along with the fact that their leadership roles are occupied 79% by men. Yahoo follows suit, and only employs 37% women. Facebook 31% and LinkedIn 39%.

So although 74% of women are users of social media and networking sites, compared with 62% of men, they are not the ones running the businesses behind them.
  •        57% of Bachelor’s degrees are earned by women, but only 12% of computer science degrees

According to some, much of this has to do with women not being exposed to computer science after leaving school.

The statistics that build up the picture of women in tech is not a pretty one. And the attitudes that follow this and populate the media and news are no better.

Last week Business Insider UK wrote an article on ‘The 25 Coolest Women in Tech’. The next day Breitbart ‘A conservative news and opinion site’ reordered the list and renamed it ‘Business Insiders 25 Coolest Women in Tech. Re-Ranked by Hotness’

As if this isn’t enough to make anyone’s blood boil, a quick flick through the journalists other articles he’s penned included; ‘In Defence of the Patriarchy’ and ‘What Drives the Angry Feminist Journalists Slating #GamerGate’  would make any self-identifying feminist slightly enraged.

There is a huge issue with women entering into jobs and careers in technology in this current day, and when articles such as this are published, you began to realise why. Looking further into the statistics of women working in technology, it becomes clear that not only are fewer women entering into careers in tech, but even fewer women are staying in this industry.

Despite employee incentives, women leave technology companies at twice the rate of men. A study that included over 1,000 women who worked in engineering and technology, and then left the field (mostly to other careers), cited the following top reasons for leaving their jobs.

30% blamed working conditions, such as no advancements, too many hours and low salaries

27% blamed work-life integration, unable to balance their work/home life

22% said they began to lose interest and not enjoy their work

17% said they didn’t enjoy the organisational climate and culture, including their co-workers and employers.

The Anita Borg Institute states that; ‘As the demand for top technical talent continues to outplace the number of graduates each year, leaders and managers must develop and foster a workplace culture that enables them to develop and retain women in technical roles.’  

But when women working in technology, engineering and science are at an all time low, and the retention rate is even lower, the fact that a media outlet feels the need to re-rank a list on incredibly successful technical business women and turn it into an attractiveness competition,  is enough to make you shake your head in disbelief.

The Women’s Organisation’s Digital Marketing Coordinator Jo Austin believes that; "These are exactly the types of attitudes that are preventing us from seeing much advancement in redressing the balance. Is the measuring stick for whether women are successful in tech really how ‘hot’ they are? We want real role models that young women can aspire to be like, no matter how 'cool' or 'hot' they feel. Women should recognise their skills, ambitions and abilities as a measuring stick for greatness to pursue their dream."

Thankfully, there are companies and organisations that are making changes and want a more diverse experience for those entering into a career in tech, such as Girls in Tech London, WISE Campaign, and Women in Technology. The Women’s Organisation are firm believers that the industry shouldn’t be reserved for white males between the ages of 18-35, but for everyone who wants to be a part of the step forward into the future of technology.

Girls in Tech London - http://girlsintechuk.com/

Women in Technology - http://www.womenintechnology.co.uk/

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