Surprisingly, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women make up only 26 percent of the computing workforce — and the breakdown of this percentage is even more alarming. As of 2017, only 3 percent of the female workforce are African-American, 5 percent are Asian women, and a startling 1 percent are Hispanic women. Considering this gender gap (and pay gap), it’s easy to say the tech industry is seriously missing out on a large amount of talent, perspective, and skill.
Moreover, a career in IT comes with numerous benefits such as high salaries, job security, and plenty of room for advancement — and yet women are often absent from this field. So what gives? Well, unfortunately, there are a number factors contributing to women choosing other careers over ones in IT. However, as our world of technology continues growing and the need for technical talent keeps rising, we need more women filling these positions and sharing their innovative viewpoints and expertise.
As the experts at DeVry University explain, “The need for tech skills is expanding and becoming increasingly important for everyone in every role at every business — across all industries.” This demand presents a lot of opportunities for a successful, rewarding career, and women should be taking full advantage of it. Furthermore, businesses should be seeking out women, as it’s been shown that companies perform better with women on their team than without.
With all of that in mind, we can’t ignore the structural barriers for women in professional computing careers. World Economic Forum lists a few of the reasons why women today feel less inclined to join IT programs and jobs:
- Lack of encouragement
- Active discouragement
- Lack of role models
- Negative peer pressure
Moreover, women coming from underrepresented groups are faced with twice the prejudice, facing discrimination for both their gender and their race. World Economic Forum further explains that the absence of women isn’t for lack of ability (as some might suggest or assume).
The great benefit of having women in IT is more diversity and a larger pool of talent to utilize, and having a more diverse field means fresh, new perspectives which then present more opportunities for new discoveries. If the structure of tech schools can manage to change — more female instructors, role models, mentors, even schools — then women will likely feel more interested and excited to pursue a career in IT, coding, and other STEM fields.
Encouraging girls from an early age to pursue their interests in the professional computing world and involving them in programs and workshops is a great way to get the ball rolling as well. By showing them early on all the possibilities a degree in IT can present, such as testing mobile apps and video games, they will be far more likely to pursue a degree in IT when they go off to college.
Furthermore, actively discouraging stereotypes among genders — “boys can do this; girls can’t do this” — is another way we can level the playing field and increase the number of women entering the IT workforce, which would mean more representation and more role models for aspiring girls to look up to. It’ll also be incredibly vital for businesses to provide a better environment for success and learning for women wanting to enter this field.
We need more women in IT. This industry is starved for new talent and skills, and if we don’t have more women filling in these important roles, we may never break down those barriers and in turn have the misfortune of missing so many brilliant minds. While the problems within the industry doesn’t necessarily rest all on the shoulders of women to fight alone, more women from all backgrounds entering IT means more female role models and mentors for the next generation — and the next generation and so on. It is possible, and we can do IT.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Avery Taylor Phillips – Avery is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions. Check out her blog on https://www.equities.com/user/AveryTaylorPhillips