Did you know that women currently make up nearly half of all employees in the U.S., but women only account for 25% of computing-related roles, according to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)?

Moreover, of the only 1/4 roles in computing held by women, Asian women make up just 5% of that number, while Black and Hispanic women accounted for 3% and 1% of those roles, respectively.

So, ever wondered how come less women choose (or are able to) pursue careers in IT? What obstacles do they face, and how can we encourage more women to seek IT opportunities?

Here’s to all the women in the IT industry, we hear you, we see you, and we’re proud of you!

Degree and employee retention rate disparities

According to data from the National Science Foundation, women earned only 19% of bachelor computer science degrees in 2016.

Not only that, but only 38% of women who majored in computer science still work in the field compared to 53% of men, while only 24% of women with an engineering degree still work in engineering, compared to 30% of their male counterparts.

This worrying trend has been called a “leaky pipeline,” where it’s difficult to keep women working in the technology industry once they’ve graduated with a related degree.

Gender-based discrimination in the workplace

According to a Pew Research Center report, nearly half of women said they had experienced gender discrimination at work, while nearly half of that—22%—of their male counterparts had said the same.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of women who reported gender-based discrimination in the workplace was even higher for women working in software engineering or computer related jobs (74%).

1 out of 5 women also stated their gender made it harder to succeed at work, and more than two-thirds of them even said that sexual harassment is a problem in their workplace.

The vast majority of women in tech—a whopping 78% of them in fact—also reported that they feel they have to work harder than their male colleagues in order to prove their worth.
Women who work at tech companies are also four times more likely than men to see gender bias as an obstacle to getting promoted at work.

So, how can we make these worrying statistics a little better?

Make sure to have a sizeable percentage of women in leadership roles

“If an organization doesn’t have women in technology leadership, it’s hard for some women—if they can’t see it, they can’t be it,” Carol Donovan Juel, the executive vice president and CIO at Synchrony said in a statement. “If there aren’t enough role models, women don’t understand their career path or what they should do.”

In fact, studies have shown that women are significantly more likely to stay at the same workplace for more than a year and report higher levels of job satisfaction at companies with extensive female leadership representation.

Ensure equal pay for equal work

Only 42% of women feel their place of work offered equal pay for equal work, compared to 75% of men who felt their employer gave equal pay for equal work, according to a Women in Technology report from International Data Corporation (IDC).

Some corporations, like Salesforce, have taken on a well-publicized effort to ensure equal pay for equal work. Salesforce for example, has spent more than $10 million to address unexplained differences in pay between its male and female employees.

So, to help empower women, make sure you pay all your employees the same amount for the same work, and not based on your perhaps unconscious biases.

Make taking time off to care for family

According to that same IDC report, 35% of women worried that taking time off to care for their children or other family members could potentially derail their career—while only 23% of their male equivalents had the same concern.

So, consider offering paid parental leave and other initiatives that will show your employees their careers won’t be derailed if they need to take care of a loved one.

For example, Salesforce implemented an enviable “26 weeks of paid parental leave, and a focus on metrics, including making diversity data available to the executive team on a monthly basis so they can monitor results and keep diversity goals top of mind,” according to Molly Ford, Salesforce’s Senior Director of Global Equality Programs.

Confront the unconscious biases head-on

Women are more than twice as likely to report that their workplace promoted a culture of sexism and bias than men are, with 41% of women attributing these and other gender-related issues to unconscious bias.

If you don’t try to tackle these unconscious biases and make an actionable effort to make things better, all the diversity groups and lectures won’t mean much.

Key factors women look for in an employer, studies say

Perhaps you’ll find it surprising that women and men are actually quite similar when it comes to the main things they look for when picking a potential employer: Everyone wants to work at a company where they’ll earn a competitive salary, be able to maintain a solid work/life balance, and conduct what they feel is meaningful work to an organization that has a sense of purpose, according to an IDC report.

But, if you dig deeper, there are some meaningful differences between the two genders.

When asked to rank selection criteria for considering potential new employers, women highlighted the following 7 key components:

  • Company growth potential and future success
  • Competitive compensation and pay
  • Company builds quality products and services
  • Company has a sense of mission and purpose
  • Opportunities for career advancement and promotion
  • Would improve future employability opportunities
  • Trusted by customers and business partners

So, if you want to attract more women to work at your company, you should prioritize the above list, and be sure to offer considerable growth potential and have that be communicated to your potential candidates, offer equal pay for equal work, and provide opportunities for career advancement—not only to your white, cis, male employees.

Let’s encourage women in STEM, and reward them for their hard work

It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in IT let alone in tech leadership positions.

So, below are some awards to try and know all the women, and women of color, who are doing outstanding work in IT, we see you and are proud of you!

Global Women in tech awards

The Women in IT Awards & Summit is a one-day event covering topics such as blockchain, AI and machine learning. The Award categories include CIO of the Year; Advocate of the Year; Entrepreneur of the Year; Future CIO of the Year; Business Role Model of the Year; CTO of the Year; Rising Star; and Diversity Initiative of the Year.

Lesbians who tech summit

Founded back in 2014, the Lesbians Who Tech Summit cites itself as the “largest LGBTQ professional event in the world,” according to its website, and of course allies are welcome. The event was designed to bring more exposure to the LGBTQ community in tech, including “LGBTQ women, trans and gender nonconforming individuals, LBGTQ people of color, and demographics that are underrepresented in the tech sector and LGBTQ spaces.”

Tech up for women

Tech Up for Women is a one-day conference that targets the advancement of women in different sectors of technology, including cybersecurity, blockchain, AI, VR, big data, security, and healthcare technology. The conference strives to “improve their digital literacy and successfully compete and disrupt gender imbalance in work environments,” according to its website.

Here’s to all the women in the IT industry, we hear you, we see you, and we’re proud of you!

We hope you have a wonderful International Women’s Day, and feel valued and respected every day of the year!

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