The Desperate Need for Women in the Tech Industry
The stereotypical image of someone in the tech field is an unkempt young man with thick glasses, bad posture, and a flippant attitude ― and there is nothing the industry wants more than to change that. For this reason and several more, tech needs women.
Unfortunately, women remain woefully underrepresented in tech fields. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women currently hold less than a quarter of all tech jobs. Despite the fact that girls and women account for more than half of the passing grades on advanced math tests, only about 22 percent proceed to take even a single computer science course. In fact, the number of women in tech has been decreasing for about 30 years; in 1985, about 37 percent of computer science grads were women, but in 2014, that number had fallen to under 15 percent.
There are several reasons women aren’t attracted to a career in technology, but none of them are particularly good. Conversely, the reasons why women should flock to the tech industry are growing every day, and those below should be more than enough to convince young girls to pursue an education in tech.
Tech Needs Workers
The simplest and most obvious reason more women should look to tech is that the industry is in desperate need of more workers. Tech is an astoundingly large industry, netting an annual $3.7 trillion globally ― for which the U.S. is responsible for almost a third ― and it is only continuing to grow. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, by 2024, experts predict there to be more than 1 million job openings in tech-related fields, and it isn’t feasible to expect one gender to fill that massive gap in the job market. Tech needs women because it needs smart, motivated, and educated bodies to fill its many open positions. Women should look into tech-related degree programs to become qualified for these high-paying advanced career opportunities.
Tech Jobs Provide Features Women Like
Dozens of studies have concluded that women and men tend to have different priorities when it comes to jobs. Though both genders have concerns about salary, other features of careers and employers tend to attract or repel candidates based on gender lines. While men are primarily concerned with advancement opportunities and financial stability, women more often flock to employers that provide benefits such as schedule flexibility, location flexibility, and meaningful work.
Perhaps surprisingly, tech companies generally offer these features and others that appeal to women. Because most tech innovation occurs online, and because the web is available anytime, anyplace, hundreds of tech jobs are extremely flexible, allowing women to create an incredibly stable work-life balance. Unfortunately, one sought-after feature tech has difficulty providing is female mentors because there are so few women in the industry. However, when more women see the advantages of entering tech fields, they can become role models for future generations of women in tech.
Tech Wants Women
This year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued concerns over the disconcerting lack of gender diversity in tech, to which many industry leaders responded that they are trying hard to entice women ― it just isn’t working. Good business leaders understand the benefits of having a diverse team, which include higher first and last valuations, wider knowledge base, faster innovation, more effective customer service, and better access to resources. Companies with higher percentages of female board directors outperformed those with lower percentages of representation by about 42 percent.
Unfortunately, women don’t appear widely interested in tech (whether because of the field as a whole or widely known problematic issues within). Fortunately, a number of women organizations are working to change that. Groups such as Girls Who Code reach out to young women looking for career opportunities and provide training and community to guide them through the sometimes-antagonistic industry. Though tech does want women, it isn’t well-equipped to generate interest in young girls or retain young women, so these groups provide a much-needed service.
Women Can Create Change Through Tech
Technology is extremely influential in modern life, and by working in tech, women have the ability to shape culture in unique and interesting ways. In fact, simply committing to working in the tech industry is a disruptive act that can have positive ramifications for women and men for years to come. Rather than bemoaning the gender disparity, women who enter tech fields can actively work to end it, creating the change the world (and the tech industry) desperately needs.