Women all over the world face several obstacles to build a career in technology. From bad advice on career-choosing to the lack of promotion opportunities in the tech field, there is a structure that holds women back from standing out in STEM related professions.
There is a large employment gap between men and women in the technology field, women are only 20% of computer science professionals (Computerscience.org, 2021). This is a dramatic number, especially considering that STEM related jobs have grown 79% since 1990, in comparison to 34% of overall jobs (Pew Research Center).
The cause for the subrepresentation of women in technology has several structural reasons, related to patriarchal traditions that persist these days even in rich countries.
Young women are less likely to choose STEM careers
74% of high-school aged women do express interest in studying STEM subjects, but only 18% end up choosing STEM related careers (University of Washington, n.d.). What can be unmotivating young women to follow a technology pathway?
The lack of role models in the field and proper career advice play important roles in this scenario. Only 16% of female students have been suggested with a career in technology, and only 22% of people are able to name a famous woman in technology. (PricewaterhouseCoopers, n.d.).
This shows the educational system should be more prepared to make young women get interested in STEM related subjects, knowing that the career in technology is viable and a great option for women too.
The tech work environment is still men-oriented
When we look at the careers of women who overcame the gender gap and current work with technology, we see that the biggest barrier is, again, cultural.
In the UK, 49% of women in STEM have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace (Agarwal, 2020), and 20.4% of women in tech over the age of 35 remain in junior-level positions compared to just 5.9% of men over the age of 35 (HackerRank, 2019).
Also, 71% of women report to have worked in a tech company with a strong “bro culture” (TrustRadius). Considering culture fit is one of the criteria for hiring people, this kind of environment is a barrier itself for technologist women employability.
Women are giving up their tech jobs
This is enough reason to justify women leaving their tech jobs at a 45% higher rate than men (Maynard, 2021). The top reasons why women leave their jobs in technology are weak management support (23%), lack of opportunity (20%), and lack of work-life balance (22%) (Capital One, 2019).
When we talk about bad feelings at work, 70% of female employees have experienced burnout in their jobs, 51% experienced work-related stress weekly, and 69% experienced work-related burnout (Schiavo, 2020).
Besides handling work, 60% of women working in technology report they are responsible for most of the house chores (Kaspersky, 2021). This means women in tech have a double workload, as they continue working at home.
How to bring in tech women?
Companies are not doing enough to retain women in tech roles: 36% of females in tech say they haven’t perceived any efforts by their companies to close the gender gap (Source: TechRadius).
If we relate that to the fact that only 37% of tech startups have at least one woman on the board of directors (Source: sbv), it’s clear to see that the man-oriented culture feeds itself.
Considering that technology has the power to transform the world that we live in, who has the power to manage technology has the power to drive the way this transformation is going.
As what feeds the men-oriented culture in the tech field is the lack of opportunities for women, once we balance the number of women in the team and give them opportunities to ascend job roles, the culture fixes itself.
When young girls start to see a growing number of women in tech, they’ll believe they belong to the tech field too and will start opting more for studying STEM subjects.
But creating tech female role-models will only be possible if companies actually engage in bringing women in to their teams with full dignity, based in equal rights and zero tolerance to discrimination.
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