Women in Tech – why there aren’t many

by | May 18, 2016

On paper IT industry is an ideal place for women to work. The pay is generous, with a lower-than-average gender gap of 12%; it’s easy to work flexible hours or telecommute; and you rarely need specialist qualifications to get started.  But despite high-profile campaigns like Girls Who Code, the percentage of women in technology is actually falling.  Even progressive Google, with its egg freezing and free coffee, only scrapes a 30% female workforce. The women in tech topic continues unabated.

Women in Tech

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

Men tend to dominate STEM subjects at school and in college, but that doesn’t fully explain the shortage of women in tech jobs.  After all, there are plenty of women in other STEM professions like accounting.  And it’s not necessary to have a degree in computer science in order to work in tech: you can teach yourself to code from YouTube tutorials.

Are tech companies to blame?

Those working to increase the number of women in tech, puts the blame on tech companies themselves.  Adverts for tech jobs tend to use strongly gendered wording, using male coded language, emphasising the competitive nature of the work, and most companies aren’t doing much to attract a wider pool of applicants. Research by pressure group The Elephant in the Valley found widespread sexism at all stages of the hiring process.  For example, 75% of women working in Silicon Valley were asked about children or marital status in interviews for their current job.  Read: How will men respond to illegal interview questions?

It’s not just a pipeline problem.  [Tweet "Women in tech have double the attrition rate of men"] – 56% end up leaving the industry mid-career.  According to research  from the Anita Berg Institute, an organisation trying to get more women into technology, women tend to leave because of lack of progression opportunities or a poor work-life balance.  [Tweet "And when less than 10% of CIOs are female, no wonder women don’t feel like they have a future."]  In other industries, women are most likely to change jobs in order to make more money: that doesn’t even make the top 5 reasons for women leaving tech.

Read: #HRTechWorld addresses gender balance in Tech

A diverse workforce is beneficial to any industry, but it’s particularly crucial for the IT industry.

In the early days of home computing, men were the biggest users of the internet; today, women spend almost 20% more time online than men, and they dominate every social networking site except LinkedIn.  In gaming, the biggest growth is in cute-looking phone games like FarmVille and Words With Friends, aimed squarely at the sort of women who would never play on an Xbox.

Marketing tech to women

When you’re marketing tech to women, no amount of focus groups and market research will make up for just having women in your workplace. Read: How to attract talented women to your organisation Consider the new breed of huge smartphones, which are great for watching videos but too big for the average woman’s hands.  If the phone companies had more women in their development teams, someone would have noticed that.

If your company would like to attract more women contact us  now!

Alice Bell Contributor
"Alice writes online about business, popular science, and women's lifestyle. After a few years working her way around the world, she has settled in the north of England and taken a day job as a maths teacher. Her life's ambition is to earn enough money to start repaying her student debt."

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