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Analysis

Women in the tech industry: the facts

27 June 2018 | By Anastasios Koutsogiannis

Anastasios Koutsogiannis analyses female representation in the technology sector and suggests a constantly improving work environment for women.

When we hear about the tech industry, the first thing that comes to mind is innovation, miraculous inventions, and progressive ideas. In that sense, we tend also to believe that it’s a field where the traditional rules of the market don’t apply and where a more subversive approach is adopted.

That being said, we would expect that the male and female presence in the sector is fairly balanced, as well. Is that the case though?

In an effort to examine the actual status of women in the tech industry, we did some research and analysed some facts and numbers about the present and future of women in technology.

The role of women in numbers

While taking a look at the available statistics, there are two thoughts that come to mind. On the one hand, things are steadily improving and women seem to be establishing a stronger presence in the tech sector.

On the other hand, it is evident that there is still a long way ahead before we can claim that the issue of diversity in the industry is resolved and that there is a balance between men and women in technology and other sectors related to it.

In a nutshell, here are some of the most eye-catching statistics in regard to the role of women in the tech industry:

According to Coupofy and UndercoverRecruiter, 20% of the start-ups in the technological world have women as their founders.

Number of women in construction - all types (Source: US Bureau of Labour Statistics)

The majority of these start-ups are located in the US and more specifically in areas such as Silicon Valley, Boston, and Chicago.

Facebook and Microsoft seem to play a decisive role in the effort to attract and retain more female employees in the industry. In 2015, the amount of women employed by Facebook increased by 84%, while the same number of men didn’t exceed 16%. For the same period, Microsoft increased its women employees by 83% compared to 17% of men.

These powerful numbers suggest that the tech industry is on the verge of a substantial change. When tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft take an active pro-gender diversity stand then future looks much more hopeful.

The points of concern

Despite these positives tendency, there are still many points of concern when it comes to gender diversity in the tech sector. Some of the most critical statistics are summed up below:

Women average only 30% of the total workforce in big tech companies across the world. That’s a disturbing number if we consider that 59% of the total workforce is women.

There are only five women CEOs among 41 tech companies included in the Fortune 500 list.

On top of that, women make up only 14.3% of the total board seats in the Top 10 tech companies in the world.

Women as knowledge workers (Source: US Bureau of Labour Statistics)

Lastly, another extremely worrying tendency has to do with the fact that approximately 40% of women with a degree in engineering either don’t pursue a career in the field or quit very soon after their entrance into the industry. The same applies to women with business degrees in the tech field.

Without a doubt, these numbers are a strong blow to the body and go to show that the tech industry has to become better both in attracting and retaining female talent.

Why women leave or avoid the tech industry

To find some effective solutions to this crucial issue, it is necessary to examine the actual reasons behind this tendency. Only then will we be able to confront the problem and attempt to reverse the situation.

Numbers and statistics are again our biggest allies to this effort. Here are some of the most substantial facts as listed by the UndercoverRecruiter:

  • Working conditions appear as one of the most vital reasons for women to leave the tech sector. 30% of them highlight that the long working hours in combination with low salaries and no opportunities to evolve in the professional field push them away from the sector.
  • Balancing work and personal life appears to be a huge challenge for 27% of the women who decide to stop pursuing a career in the tech world. Especially for women who have a family the challenge becomes even greater as they have to balance between being a professional and a mother.
  • Another significant factor is connected to the professional environment. Many women reported that they had many difficulties in adjusting to the company environment which eventually led to them losing interest in their job.
  • Last but not least, 24% of the women who leave their career in technology go after a non-technical career in a different company while 22% choose the tough path of becoming self-employed in a field related to technology.

How we can make things right

It doesn’t take much to realise that increasing the presence of women in the tech sector can’t happen overnight. Nevertheless, there is already a positive momentum which should be supported by the people from the industry. This can truly make a difference in the long run.

Here are some ways in which the tech industry could change:

Start early: The absence of women from industries related to technology isn’t an unexplained phenomenon. It’s just another expression of the existing gender schemas that have shaped today’s society.

In that sense, we need to start early and try to communicate to young girls that the tech world can be a solid career choice for them. For instance, the establishment of professional orientation programmes at school could remove some of the existing stereotypes and pave the way for a more diverse tech sector.    

Mentor programmes: This applies both to men and women and relates to the fact that it can be hard for a new employee to create a strong network and adjust themselves to the working reality.

In such cases, special mentorship programmes could introduce the employees to their new challenging working life in a smooth and helpful manner. They will be able to get the necessary encouragement to stay in the sector and make a difference.

Work flexibility: As mentioned earlier, women often find it really hard to balance between their personal and working life due to their multi-level role within a family. Flexible working hours could potentially help them in maintaining that balance and thrive both in their professional and personal life.

More managerial positions for women: The lack of promotion opportunities appears to be one of the main reasons women decide to leave the tech field at an early point. By supporting an approach where women can also be considered for a managerial position can truly make a difference and give women the necessary vision to stay in the industry and evolve professionally.

Final thoughts

To sum up, it goes without saying that there are still many steps that need to be taken before we can claim that women have equal opportunities in the tech world. Nonetheless, the situation is continuously improving and coupled with the ongoing paradigm shift in society a promising future for female employees in the tech world is opening up.

Anastasios Koutsogiannis is content marketing manager at GenieBelt

Main image: Undrey/Dreamstime.com