January 14, 2021

Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech? (And Why It Needs to Change)



Why aren't there more women in tech? It is a well known fact that the technical industries have been historically “male-dominated,” but this doesn’t mean that tech jobs are “for men.” It means that non-male identifying members of our global community have been excluded from these important spaces for decades.

In data collected by Girls Who Code, an organization on a mission to help close the gender-gap in tech, in 2021, only 22% of computer scientists identify as women—a number that has dropped from 37% in 1995. At an even greater disparity, only 3% of those roles are held by black women. In addition, their data shows that women leave tech roles at a 45% higher rate than men, and that 50% of women working in tech leave the industry by age 35.

So, why is this happening? Well, we’ve got even more numbers for you (numbers so big and clear they can’t possibly be ignored).

Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech? 

Work culture and gender discrimination have often been cited as leading reasons for the lack of gender equality in the tech industry. In a famous Guardian study that sparked discussion about sexism in the tech industry for years, it was found that 73% of men and women in the tech world believe the industry to be sexist. Since this Guardian report, numerous studies have come out showing similar outcomes. In recent years, a Pew Research poll found that 50% of women in tech have actively experienced gender discrimination at work while only 19% of men said the same to be true for them.

In data found by Girls Who Code, only 8% of women of color in tech say it’s “easy” for them to thrive in their workplace.

In conjunction with an unequal work culture, around the world the gender pay gap affects the careers of women in tech. The gender pay gap refers to the global trend of women getting paid less for doing the same work in the same role as a male counterpart. In a wage equality study performed by Hired, they found 60% of the women surveyed across industries have discovered they were being paid less than a male counterpart in the same position, whereas only 24% of men have discovered the same to be true.

The previously mentioned Guardian study found that 52% of women in the tech industry say they are being paid less than a male coworker for the same job. 

Lastly, educational spaces create barriers of entry, and often see women pushed out of STEM subjects. Whereas it has been said men are pushed and encouraged to study STEM fields, women are exposed to just the opposite. In data provided by Girls Who Code, only 25% of tech graduates are women, and women have a high drop-out rate of 37% for tech classes. While multiple factors are at play, many cited the “mens-club” culture of tech being one of their leading drop-out motivators.

From school to the the office, gender discrimination, unbalanced workplaces and hiring practices, poor workplace culture, and a lack of educational encouragement for women have all contributed to the truth of our current tech industry.

Why We Absolutely Need More Women in Tech 

It’s important to not only discuss how women are kept out of technical spaces, but why we as a global community need more women in tech starting right now. 

As an industry, it is crucial that we focus our attention on equality. In the article “Women Impact Tech: Why Do We Need More Women in Tech in 2020” by the WomenTech Network, they cite three key reasons for why we need to be more welcoming:

1. It generates innovation

Sitting in a room full of like-minded individuals, you will only get like-minded ideas. There is little space for growth in that room. 

As stated by the WomenTech Network, “Bringing together individuals of different genders, sexual orientation, backgrounds and ethnicities, and you suddenly have a more dynamic atmosphere where creative thought can flourish.” Simply put, by being more inclusive and welcoming in the tech industry, we can grow far beyond where we are now.

2. It generates impact and more revenue

The numbers don’t lie: By creating a more inclusive tech industry, we can see a more prosperous tech industry. 

In research done by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, they surveyed 22,000 firms worldwide. In their research, they found that companies that were more gender-diverse were more profitable. They stated that “...companies with a 30% female share experienced a 15% increase in profitability in comparison to those with little or no gender diversity.”

3. It can positively impact future generations

As said by Sheryl Sanberg (she/her), COO of Facebook, “The word ‘female,’ when inserted in front of something, is always with a note of surprise. Female COO, female pilot, female surgeon—as if the gender implies surprise … One day there won’t be female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

By breaking-down tech stereotypes and welcoming women into spaces they have been historically barred from, we can set a positive and necessary example for future generations. With more women in tech, and with more women in leadership roles in tech, we set the standard and lead by example. Action creates change.

How You Can Be Part of the Change 

To be a part of the change in the tech industry in 2021, we can all take a more active role in creating an inclusive workplace. In research done by Girls Who Code, they found that for women who work in inclusive work cultures 85% said they love their job and only 1% would consider leaving the tech industry. Compare that to women who work in exclusive work cultures where only 28% of women said they love their job and 21% say they would consider leaving the tech industry entirely.

In fact, Girls Who Code predicts that with a more inclusive work culture, there could be almost three million young women working in tech by 2030.

It is our job to contribute to creating a more equal industry and culture. Actionable items include: 

  • Hiring more women in tech and providing equal pay
  • Creating more leadership opportunities for women, especially BIPOC women 
  • Teaching and enforcing inclusive work practices in all settings 
  • Reshaping our education system to include and encourage women to enter technical spaces
  • Supportings funds, scholarships, and grants that provide equal access to technical education

At the start of 2021, Burlington Code Academy’s very own Community Coordinator Sadie Goldfarb (she/her) hosted our event Tech & Social Justice: Leveraging Our Platform on how we can start tackling these actionable items today. With this event and knowledge in mind, Goldfarb suggests:

“In order to create more inclusive communities in tech we first need to lower the barrier to entry. This can be accomplished by offering discounted tuition for tech programs to students affected by systemic barriers and widespread injustice. We also must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations. We must call out injustice when and where we see it within the industry and be ready to advocate for ourselves and others. Aka, challenge that status quo.” 

In 2021 and beyond, everyone in the tech industry must promise each other to start conversations, recognize privilege and injustice, and work together to create a better community. 

Want to join the discussion? You can view our events listings at burlingtoncodeacademy.com where we often host talks and events about using our platforms to create change. Join us in the conversations of today so we move forward into a better tomorrow. 

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