Diversity is key in technology because it allows companies to create better and safer products that consider everyone, not just one part of society. Additionally, a 2020 McKinsey report found that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that don’t focus on diversity and inclusion. Despite this, women remain vastly underrepresented in IT positions.
The statistics for the following nine facets of IT work, ranging from higher education to the work environment, paint a clear picture of the challenges women face in finding an equal footing in an IT career.
The job gap
Women make up 47% of all employed adults in the United States, yet in 2015 they held just 25% of IT roles, according to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). Of the 25% of women working in tech, Asian women make up only 5% of that number, while black and Hispanic women make up 3% and 1%, respectively. All of this despite the fact that STEM job growth has outpaced overall job growth in the country, rising 79% since 1990 while overall employment has grown 34%, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Despite national conversations about the lack of diversity in tech, women are disproportionately absent from this boom.
The degree deviation
According to data from the National Science Foundation, more women than ever are earning STEM degrees — and they’re catching up with men in earning bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering (S&E). But when you isolate by field of study, women earned just 19% of computer science degrees at the bachelor’s level in 2016, down from 27% in 1997. Yet while women are less represented in IT departments undergraduate computer science, those pursuing a degree in computer science. degrees are more likely to dive deeper these days, as the percentage of computer science master’s degrees earned by women rose to 31% in 2016 from 28% in 1997.
The retention gap
Once a degree is earned, the real work begins, and here the number of women in tech is perhaps even more troubling. According to data from the National Science Foundation, only 38% of female computer science graduates work in the field, compared to 53% of males. Similarly, only 24% of women with an engineering degree are still working in engineering, compared to 30% of men. This is an ongoing trend that has been dubbed a “leaky pipeline,” where it is difficult to retain women in STEM jobs once they earn a STEM degree.
Cultural gap in the workplace
Women are not entering tech jobs at the same rate as men – and one of the reasons can be attributed to male-dominated workplaces. A 2017 poll in the Pew Research Center report found that 50% of women said they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, while only 19% of men said the same. The figures were even higher for women with a postgraduate degree (62%), working in IT jobs (74%) or in male-dominated workplaces (78%). When asked if their gender made it harder for them to succeed at work, 20% of women said yes and 36% said sexual harassment was a problem in their workplace.
In addition to increasing the likelihood of gender-based discrimination against women, male-dominated workplaces pay less attention to gender diversity (43%) and cause women to feel the need to prove themselves all or some of the time (79%), according to Pew research in 2017. By comparison, only 44% of women working in environments with better gender balance reported experiencing gender discrimination at work, 15% felt their organization paid “too little” attention to gender diversity and 52% said they needed to prove themselves.
While these figures show that there is still work to be done, it is clear that women working in more heterogeneous teams were less likely to perceive gender inequalities at work. They were less likely to think their organization would overlook them for an opportunity or promotion and were less likely to feel that their gender stood in the way of their company’s success. Women working in male-dominated environments were more likely to report higher rates of gender discrimination and hostile work environments.
The representation gap
A lack of female representation in technology can hinder a woman’s ability to succeed in the industry. This can limit their opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship and can help foster “unconscious gender bias in corporate culture,” leaving many women “without a clear path,” according to a report by TrustRadius. The report found that 72% of women in tech say they outnumber men in business meetings by at least 2:1, while 26% say they outnumber men by 5:1 or more. .
Women in tech are unfortunately used to a lack of representation – 72% of women said they had worked for a company where “bro culture” is “pervasive”, while only 41% of men said the same. TrustRadius defines ‘bro culture’ broadly as anything from an ‘uncomfortable work environment to sexual harassment and assault’. As the study points out, this gender gap is likely due in part to a perception gap, noting that it “can be difficult for those in power, or those not negatively affected, to recognize the problems within the dominant culture”.
The majority of women in tech (78%) also say they have to work harder than their male colleagues to prove their worth. Women in tech are also four times more likely than men to see gender bias as a barrier to promotion. And for women of color in tech, they are even less confident than white women about their prospects for promotion — 37% of women of color in tech report racial bias as a barrier to promotion.
The pandemic divide
Women in tech have faced more job burnout than their male colleagues over the past year. The TrustRadius report found that 57% of women surveyed said they experienced more burnout than normal during the pandemic, compared to 36% of men who said the same. This could be because 44% of women also report taking on additional responsibilities at work, compared to 33% of men. And more women (33%) report taking on more childcare responsibilities than men (19%) at home. Women in tech were also nearly twice as likely to have lost their jobs or been laid off during the pandemic as men (14% vs. 8%).
The pandemic has also made women less likely to ask for a raise or promotion, compared to their male colleagues. In a report by Indeed, surveying 2,000 tech workers, 67% of men surveyed said they would be comfortable asking for a raise next month and a promotion. But only 52% of women said they would be comfortable asking for a raise and 54% said they would be comfortable asking for a promotion. Women were also less likely than their male counterparts to say they felt comfortable asking for flexibility around work location, schedule or hours. As the study points out, if women feel discouraged from asking for a raise, when their male colleagues are comfortable doing so, this could lead to an even wider gender pay gap in the workplace. technology industry.
The founding gap
Startups are known for their unconventional work environments, but women still struggle there, especially if they are the founder.
According to a Silicon Valley Bank study, only one in four startups have a female founder, 37% have at least one female on the board, and 53% have at least one female in a leadership position. And the sex of the founder has a direct impact on gender diversity, according to the study. For startups with at least one female founder, 50% had a female CEO compared to only 5% for companies without a female founder.
Worse still, startups with at least one female founder reported more difficulty finding funding, with 87% saying it was “somewhat or extremely difficult,” while only 78% of startups without a female founder said the same thing.
The pay gap
Women aren’t just underrepresented in tech, they’re also underpaid — according to a report by Dice, 38% of women say they’re dissatisfied with their pay compared to 33% of men. The average salary for a woman in tech who says she’s happy with her pay is $93,591, compared to an average of $108,711 for men. In contrast, the average salary of women who report being dissatisfied with their pay is $69,543, compared to $81,820 for men.
Women are also more concerned about compensation than most stereotypes would suggest, according to a 2019 report on women in tech from IDC. There’s a myth that women are more concerned about benefits and flexibility, but 52% of women care about pay and compensation, compared to 33% of men. In addition, 75% of men think their employer offers equal pay while only 42% of women say the same. Compensation is certainly a primary concern for women in tech, who often earn less than their male colleagues.
The IT leadership deficit
According to IDC, the percentage of women in leadership positions increased from 21% to 24% between 2018 and 2019. And that’s good news, because having women in leadership positions can have an impact positive on employee engagement and retention. In organizations where 50% or more of leadership positions are held by women, they are more likely to offer equal pay, and female employees are more likely to stay with the company for more than a year, to report greater job satisfaction and to feel the company is trustworthy.
Although these statistics are on the rise, women still feel less enthusiastic than men about their leadership prospects. The report found that 54% of men said they thought it was likely they would be promoted to senior management in their company. Meanwhile, only 25% of women said the same, noting a lack of support, self-confidence and mentorship, as well as the need to “prove yourself more than men to get promoted”.
This article was originally published on January 23, 2020.