Historically, women have struggled to find a place in the world of tech. Although things have improved through the decades, we have a long way to go to reach true equity- and many benefits to discover when we do.
As of 2022, women make up the majority of the college-educated US workforce, albeit by a slim margin. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, women make up 50.7% percent of working adults, with 31.3 million working as of the second quarter of 2022.
However, the tech industry tells a very different story. Although consistently at the forefront of progress, it struggles to keep up with other fields in gender representation. As of 2022, women hold just 26.7% of technology jobs.
Lasting Setbacks of 2020
The above percentage dropped even further during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now is slowly climbing as women are negotiating our new normal of work life- i.e. hybrid or remote models. 2020 especially hurt women in the workforce due to decreased numbers of workers in the childcare industry, and school closures — meaning that women then often took full responsibility for watching and educating their children, leaving little time for a demanding 9-5 job. It’s estimated that in 2020 there was one female for every two males in the US tech industry (Clement, 2020).
Now, with the world returning to work and school, and increased remote opportunities available, working women are finding the needed balance. Despite this slow increase of women in tech, the industry still reflects a glaring inadequacy when it comes to diverse representation.
Role of Bias
According to a poll conducted by CodinGame and CoderPad, “around 65% of tech recruiters say there’s bias in the hiring process.” (computerweekly.com.) This bias is most likely unconscious, but still just as harmful towards diversity in the workplace, and difficult to unlearn.
Most likely, the source of this bias is the simple fact that we are drawn towards what is familiar; known as the “affinity bias.” It states that we have a natural human tendency to seek out those with backgrounds, interests, and values that are similar to our own – this naturally includes gender. This is perhaps a contributing factor as to why only 30.9% of new tech hires are women – because the ones in charge of hiring decisions are so often men, and give in to their biases. (explodingtopics.com)
It’s not just that the tech industry doesn’t hire as many women; it can’t retain them either. According to a poll in 2020, 50% of women leave their jobs in the tech field by age 35. That’s a 45% higher rate than men who leave the field. (Maynard, 2021). (financesonline.com.)
In the same poll, just 21% of women reported that they believed they could thrive in the technology industry. Among women of color, this number drops to a dismal 8%.
There is a combination of factors that not only contribute towards this mass exodus of women in their professional prime, but also to their misgivings and lack of confidence as to whether they can find long-term success in the tech field.
By now, there is widespread awareness that women often make less than their male counterparts in the same position. 75.5% of tech companies have reportedly recognized this problem, and implemented equal pay policies in the workplace. However, these policies don’t appear to be having the desired effect.
Women in software engineering report that they make 0.93 cents for every dollar that men in the same field make. Women of color report even less, with different marginalized groups reporting as low as 0.54 cents to the dollar. Even CEOS are not exempt from this. For every dollar earned by male tech CEOs, female startup CEOs made only 0.89 cents.
Discrimination and Harassment
Another barrier for women joining (and remaining) in the tech industry is threat of harassment. 48% of female employees in STEM and tech fields claim that discrimination has occurred during the recruitment or hiring process. These problems don’t stop at the interview. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, 50% of women reported experiencing gender discrimination at work. (builtin.com)
When asked if their gender made it harder for them to achieve at work in general, 20% of women said “yes,” while 36% reported sexual harassment as a problem in their workplace. Overall, 39% of women view gender bias as a significant obstacle to getting a job in the tech industry- from the interview process and onwards. (explodingtopics.com)
Lack of Work-Life Balance
The struggle to find a work-life balance is a well-known issue, but it became especially prevalent in 2020, as discussed earlier. In a Capital One study in 2019, 22% of women reported a lack of work-life balance as a serious career hurdle. (financesonline.com)
While many modern couples are trying to evenly-divide the workload, society still often places the impetus upon women to take care of the household. As a result, they often find themselves picking up any slack their partners leave, making the division less than fair. Overall, women often find themselves forced to choose between work and family- and family usually comes first.
Lack of Opportunity
It’s common that women in tech are kept out of senior positions. One study reported that 52% of women surveyed cited a lack of opportunity for promotion as their biggest barrier to success in this field, and in a different survey, just 16.9% of women said they received a recent promotion. Female employees are also often pushed towards less technically focused career paths that both pay less and leave less room to move up in the company- or less desire to do so.
To put it simply, women in this field have to fight twice as hard as their male counterparts to be seen as competent, skilled, and qualified for leadership. This struggle, paired with a lack of hope that things will get better, often leads to a burnout that men just don’t experience. 66% of women state that they see no clear path for advancement or improvement within their tech careers. (financesonline.com)
Lack of Leadership/Manager Support
There is a noted lack of female leadership in the tech industry. As of January 2023, just 10% of Fortune 500 CEOS are women. This lack of women leaders directly correlates with the lack of opportunity. (womentech.net)
Change in companies often comes from the top down. We’ve seen with affinity bias that people favor others like them; thus if those in charge are men, they are likely to favor other men when it comes to matters like promotion. The few women that do manage to climb the corporate ladder find it’s lonely at the top. 48% of women surveyed reported feeling an absence of female role models at their current level or higher.
Benefits of Gender Diversity
Despite being at a disadvantage, women have provided incredible contributions to the tech world for centuries. From Katherine Johnson’s work as a mathematician enabling the first US space flight, to Hedy Lamarr’s WWII invention of a communication system that would one day make Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth tech possible, women have been instrumental in many innovations that helped shaped the world as we know it today. (globalapptesting.com)
Beyond this, studies show that just by having gender diversity, businesses often find greater success. Here are some examples:
- Companies with high executive team gender diversity scores are 25% more likely to be profitable than the national average. 2020’s Dixon-Fyle, Dolan, Hunt, & Prince
- Companies with strong gender diversity outperform those with low diversity by up to 48% when it comes to work performance. 2020’s Dixon-Fyle, Dolan, Hunt, & Prince
- Gender-diverse teams do better at corporate decision-making 73% of the time. (Hak, 2019). (financesonline.com)
Gender Diversity at Stefanini
At Stefanini, we believe that companies have an important role to play to spread awareness and promote equality, and we are continually working to offer equal growth opportunities.
As a result, we are consistently higher than the IT industry average of women in our top leadership, year after year. The industry average of women working in tech is around 17-21%, but, at Stefanini, 46% of our executive leadership team are women. That’s nearly half, and over double the tech average.
We also have 25% more female managers (31.6%) then the tech industry’s standard of 25% consistently for the past four years, and the numbers continue to trend upwards. Heidi Hagle, Stefanini’s VP of People & Culture for over 25 years, offers this insight:
“I think everybody is valued here at Stefanini, regardless of age, sex, or any other factor. If you take a look at our leadership team, you’ll see that there are a large number of women… we take into account experience, talent, and other merits in order for you to take on a position. And I think that’s what keeps people here at Stefanini… we value people for who they are.”– Heidi Hagle, VP, People & Culture, Stefanini NA & APAC
Our gender diversity has improved consistently over recent years, and our company has grown and improved with it. We hope that we can continue to make progress towards giving women in tech and IT the recognition and respect they not only deserve, but also have worked so hard to reach.
If you’re a woman looking to start a career in tech, Stefanini is a great place to do so! Apply to Stefanini today!