Information Technology has long been considered a wasteland for working women. While women make up more than half of the workforce in the U.S. (52%) they fill only around 25% of tech jobs today which is a number that has actually shown a downward trajectory from a high mark of 35% representation in 1991.
If you look at some comparatively male-dominated fields, the percentage of women in IT are basically analogous to some of the areas with the most egregious gender gaps like metal workers (20%), first-line police officers (18%), and the clergy (17.6%).
The Tech Gap
One reason for the lack of women in IT is high profile cases of misogyny in the tech sector. Embarrassingly tone deaf rants like the one from James Damore of Google (that led to his firing), and the Gamergate scandal have created the perception of a toxic atmosphere for women in IT. It is something that has received a good amount of reporting and has led to dark views of the sector in general from a female perspective.
Another important reason for a lack of female success in tech has been attributed to a dearth of role models for young women. Studies show that young women and men are equally interested in tech until about age 11 where the scarcity of mentorship models causes a drastic reduction in female tech interest.
Tech Needs Women
However, companies that have pushed toward gender diversity have found that diverse perspectives add to their ability to work more creatively, collaboratively, and incisively. As a result, by prizing diversity, companies have seen their bottom line improve by almost 300%.
After realizing that a homogeneous perspective is a distinct disadvantage, many companies are actively seeking diverse candidates.
Why Women Should Apply for Tech Jobs
With tech jobs booming by about 40 percent (by 2020) there are more opportunities than there are recruits. Therefore, companies are both working toward gender diversity and have the jobs available for many qualified individuals. These jobs are secure, pay well, and have good benefits as well.
In addition, with the embarrassing rate of female workers in tech, companies are actively working to improve the conditions or women.
Intel’s Race for Inclusion
For example, companies like Intel have been very invested in using recruiting to create a company that is as diverse as its customer base. It’s an action they have been working on for almost five years and one which they believe to be showing excellent dividends. But they are not complacent about their progress.
Barbara Whye, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of Human Resources for the Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group says, “We are proud of our progress but not satisfied. We prioritize [diversity] as a business imperative to drive innovation and future growth. Diversity and inclusion cannot be treated as an add-on. It has to be integrated into everything we do.”
Intel reiterates the current wisdom that diversity is key to innovation and creativity.
A diverse workforce and inclusive culture are key to Intel’s evolution.
In addition, there have been great gains in female role models in tech, women leaders like Kim Stevenson (SVP and GM Data Center Infrastructure at Lenovo) or Pam Parisian (CIO at AT&T) have worked to act as mentors to women in the field, giving advice to those who are coming up today.
If you are looking for further inspiration for why women can now more actively look toward Tech, below, Nextiva collected some quotes from powerhouse female Tech executives regarding how they go about their work and what it means to prize diversity in this field.