Statistics show that women are vastly underrepresented in tech despite representing 47% of all employed adults in the United States. Although they may account for almost half of the total workforce, as of 2018, women held only 25% of all jobs in the tech sector.
This article will explore what the numbers tell us about the position of women in tech today and why it is essential to have more women leaders and workers in the STEM fields.
Women Account for Only a Quarter of the Tech Workforce
A 2018 study by Adeva IT shows that women held only 25% of jobs in tech. The growth of employment opportunities in STEM (79%) has outpaced the overall development of job opportunities in the U.S. (34%). However, according to the Pew Research Center, 25% is still a drop from the percentage of tech jobs held by women in the 80s.
Asian women account for only 5%, Black women 3%, and Hispanic women 1% of the total tech workforce.
The big tech companies are doing better than average, perhaps because they have more resources to promote gender equality and diversity. Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, the five most prominent tech companies globally, have a workforce of around 34.4% women.
Women and the Workplace Culture in Tech
According to a 2017 PwC report, polls show that 50% of women in tech report experiencing some form of gender discrimination at work, compared to 19% of men.
It also seems that the more qualified women are, the more likely they are to report to have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. 62% of women with postgraduate degrees reported this. The numbers worsen for women working in computer jobs in a male-dominated workplace, with about 76% reporting gender bias. 20% of women surveyed believed that their gender made it harder to succeed at work, while 36% said sexual harassment is an issue in their workplace.
The same report shows that 43% of women in tech also felt that a male-dominated workplace cares less about gender diversity. 79% believe that this is responsible for women feeling a need to prove themselves sometimes or all the time.
Women are also 22% more likely to feel out of place compared to their male colleagues in the workplace (Imposter Syndrome).
When women working in more gender-diverse tech companies were asked the same questions, the results were significantly different. 15% felt that their employer didn’t pay enough attention to gender diversity, 44% reported experiencing gender bias in the workplace, and 52% felt the need to prove themselves.
This shows that working in a gender-diverse environment helps make women feel more comfortable in the workplace and less likely to experience/report gender discrimination or feel gender disparities at work.
Women in Tech Hiring Trends
Statistics show that the hiring and promotion trends in the tech industry are part of the root of the problem. 48% of women in the sector reported feeling discrimination based on gender in the recruitment and hiring processes.
39% of women in STEM jobs reported that gender bias is one reason they’re not being offered a promotion, and 66% believe that there is no clear opportunity for them to advance their careers while at their current company.
Women in Tech Statistics: The Degree Gap
Data from the National Science Foundation show that the number of women earning STEM degrees is at a record high and on the right track to catch up to the number of men earning degrees in Science and Engineering subjects at the undergrad level. However, isolating these numbers by the field of study shows that only 19% of computer science bachelor’s degrees are held by women, again pointing to women’s underrepresentation in the tech industry.
These figures represent a drop from the proportion of women with computer science degrees in 1997, which stood at 27%. However, there is a positive takeaway amidst the negativity—women pursuing computer science degrees today are more likely to advance their careers. This is evidenced by the fact that the proportion of postgraduate (master’s) computer science degrees earned by women rose from 28% in 1997 to 31% in 2016.
Women in Tech Representation
A report from TrustRadius found that a large representation gap between men and women exists in tech. 72% of women reported that in business meetings, men outnumber them by at least 2:1, with the ratio being as high as 5:1 for 26% of women in tech. The report recognized this vast underrepresentation as a hindrance to women’s success in the tech industry by limiting their sponsorships and mentorship opportunities and fostering an “unconscious gender bias in company culture.” Ultimately, this situation leaves many women without a clear path of advancing their careers.
72% of women reported having worked in an uncomfortable male-dominated work environment where sexual harassment and assault can occur. TrustRadius coined such an environment with the term “bro culture.”
The report showed that 78% of women in tech feel the need to work harder than their male workmates to prove their worth. Women are also less confident about their promotion chances and are four times more likely than men to perceive gender discrimination as a barrier to promotion. Women of color are less confident than their white counterparts, with 37% reporting racial bias as an obstacle to advancement in the technology sector.
Entrepreneurship and Startups
Women own 40% of businesses in the United States. Therefore, you would expect tech startups to provide slightly better conditions for women, butthe state of diversity isn’t that different from the rest of the industry.
According to a study by Silicon Valley Bank, women are the founders ofone in every four tech startups. Just over a third (37%) have at least one woman on the board, and about half (53%) have at least one female executive.
The study also noted that the founder’s gender has a direct impact on gender diversity. Of the startups with at least a single female founder, 50% employed a female CEO. Only 5% of those without a female founder had a female CEO.
Funding is also a big challenge for startup tech companies with at least one female founder. 87% reported that it was “somewhat or extremely challenging” to find funding, compared to 78% of startups without a female founder that said the same.
A 2016 report showed that women received around 2% of total investor funding, with women leading only 4.9% of businesses that received venture capital.
Fortunately, more women (79%) feel more empowered than they did five years ago despite finding it hard to obtain the funding they need to push their ventures forward.
Having more women in leadership positions is a big step towards attaining gender diversity in the workplace. Statistics show that the number of women in senior leadership positions in tech companies is growing, jumping from 21% in 2018 to 24% in 2019. We may not be there yet, but this trend promises a brighter future for women in IT leadership.
Tech organizations with at least 50% of senior leadership positions held by women perform much better in gender diversity and equality than those with less or none. They are more likely to offer equal pay and retain female employees for more than a year. Women working in such companies feel that the company is trustworthy and report higher job satisfaction.
However, many women in tech aren’t optimistic about their prospects of ascending the corporate ladder to a senior leadership position. Only 25% of women felt they stood a chance of getting promoted to an executive position in their current company, compared to 75% of men who said the same.
Women in Tech and the COVID Pandemic
Due to the COVID pandemic, 2020 was a challenging year for most, but a report from TrustRadius shows that women in tech had it even worse than their male colleagues. 36% of men admitted to experiencing more burnout than usual during the pandemic, compared to 57% of surveyed women who said the same. This is probably because more women take on extra responsibilities at work (44% to 33%) and childcare duties (33% to 19%) than men.
Women’s job security was also more at risk than the job security of men; statistics show a whooping 2.5 million women left the U.S. workforce over the past year. Women in tech were twice as likely to lose their jobs or get sent on a leave of absence than men.
In another study, 54% of women perceive the pandemic as a barrier preventing them from breaking into the tech industry. 43% of women viewed working from home as a positive experience, while 42% thought it wasn’t.
Indeed surveyed 2,000 workers in tech to study the likelihood of women and men asking for a promotion or pay raise. In their report, 52% and 54% of women said they would be comfortable asking for a pay raise and promotion, respectively. This is significantly less than the 67% of men who said they’d be comfortable doing the same in the next month.
The report also found that women felt less comfortable asking for flexibility in their working hours, location, and schedule than their male colleagues.
Girls and STEM Subjects
The path to a career in the tech world starts with choosing to study STEM subjects, which is likely why we have fewer women working in the tech industry—girls are less likely to study STEM subjects than boys. According to PwC research, more male participants than female participants opted for STEM subjects (83% of boys and 64% of girls in high school, 53% of males, and 30% of females in university).
According to the report, this gap in STEM subjects between the genders may be due to:
- Girls feel they are better in humanities and essay-based subjects.
- Some girls consider STEM subjects to be irrelevant to their desired career path.
- Some girls consider STEM subjects and think that they must avoid STEM to get the highest grades and increase their chances of university placement.
The report also showed that the intended career path of 53% of girls influenced their choice of A-Level subjects, compared to 43% of the boys.
Many Women Don’t Consider a Career in Tech
In the PwC report, only 27% of the female respondents said they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of the male respondents. 15% of males saida tech career would be their first choice, compared to only 2% of females.
These low numbers are probably due to the long-standing stereotype that the tech industry is a man’s world, lack of enough female role models in the industry, and limited access to information on what a career in tech entails.
What Do These Numbers Mean?
Recent women in tech statistics show that women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech industry, despite the enormous strides that have been made elsewhere towards gender equality and diversity.
The Way Forward
Despite the worrying statistics, some things can be done to boost the numbers and position of women in the technology sector. These include:
- Increasing the visibility of women performing well in the technology industry as role models to the younger generation
- Educating young female students on the importance of tech to the future of the planet and their role in shaping that future
- Increasing the access of female students to tech careers
- Removing dialogues that push the stereotype that the tech industry is a man’s world
As a female jobseeker in the tech industry, you stand a better chance of securing your dream job now more than ever. At VanHack, we promote equality while matching talents with tech companies in Canada and abroad. Check us out for more details on how you can secure your dream job today!