It's no secret that women are under-represented in the tech industry. Although women make up 50% of the American workforce, only 20% of those in technology are women, and of those in tech, only 33% are in any leadership role. Considering the meager history of women in tech, these numbers are fair, but we can do much better.
Trying to increase the numbers of women in this field is beneficial on all levels. The industry gains the advantage of diverse input, and tech-savvy women get to do the work they love.
Let's discuss the future of women in tech.
Related: Why We Need More Women in Tech
Why We Need Women in Tech
Although women are encouraged and incentivized to enter tech jobs, the progress could be faster. This male-dominated environment can resist female candidates for jobs or study opportunities. Despite women proving otherwise, there may still be erroneous ideas that men are better at tech and the related sciences. Not only do many men in the industry still feel that way, but some women have also bought into this thinking.
Here are a few other reasons we need more women in tech:
This growing industry needs more people. Technology is one of the fastest-growing industries, so it needs an ever-increasing workforce. With women, tech will have what it needs to continue to grow.
Studies have shown that when businesses are gender diverse, profits grow. Companies with more women and women in leadership were less likely to discriminate against women. Then their more open hiring practices focused more on skills than gender. Those companies ended up with more talented workforces, which benefited their bottom line.
Diverse Input Means Better Products
When women are a part of the conversations, along with men, the outcomes are more beneficial to both groups. In product design, a woman's input adds other perspectives and brings balance. Tech is used by everyone, so as many views should be included for better products.
Related: Gender Bias: Where are the Women?
Mindset Shifts for Men and Women
Unfortunately, mindsets that believe women are not naturally suited to have tech jobs are still prevalent in this field. Many men, and sadly, some women, also believe this myth. This has to shift because until it does, there will be a disproportionately low number of women occupying jobs in tech. What's the big problem with that? When only men design tech and write software programs, among other things, they can only see from the male perspective.
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Smartphones Designed for Men
This one-sided perspective is responsible for smartphones being designed solely for male hands, which are 1 to 2 inches larger in circumference than a woman's. This means smartphones aren't as easy or pleasant to use for women. Although companies produce smaller phones, they are usually also less powerful than their flagship models. Smartphones often have facial recognition software as a way to secure the phone. Some software struggles to recognize the face of women (and darker-skinned people).
Voice Recognition Software
Voice recognition software in cars was designed to minimize distractions and make driving safer. Unfortunately, it was found that the voice-command feature would only recognize a male voice - whether or not they were driving. What should be a safe driving feature can have the opposite effect.
Car Safety Fogot Women
Car crash dummies were designed after male bodies only, leaving women more likely to be harmed in a car accident. Even the way car interiors are designed doesn't take into account the size of women. Women tend to sit closer to the steering wheel (shorter legs) and upright to see properly over the dashboard. This means many women drivers are not in safe driving positions and are more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident.
These are only three examples of products with only a male perspective. Obviously, the male designers of these systems didn't intend to make it near impossible for women to benefit from them. But their single perspective caused them to fail to see the broader picture. Even when they attempt to consider the female user, they can still be far off.
Women in Tech: The Trends
So, where are we in attracting more women and girls to tech jobs? While 74% of girls say that they want a STEM career, women earn only 18% of Computer Science degrees in the U.S. Last year, only 25% of tech jobs were held by women, and of that number, less than 20% were in any form of leadership. Female leadership at the tech giant Apple is up 6% from 2020 to 31.4% in 2021, which is encouraging.
Unfortunately, as the rate of women in tech roles slowly increases, they are twice as likely to quit their job (by age 35) than their male counterparts. This isn't because they can't cut it. Women said they felt 'outnumbered' in business meetings, needed stronger management, were consistently overlooked for promotion, and experienced more burnout.
Venture Capitalist Money Misses Women
Of $150 billion invested in companies, women-founded companies only receive about $3.4 billion. This, in the face of other stats that show Fortune 500 companies that have at least three women in leadership, had a 66% increase in ROI.
Women in Tech: The Predictions
Gen Z women are giving us real hope for the future of women in tech. Over 60% of Gen Z girls began coding between ages 16 and 21, with 25% doing it before age 15! There are more educational opportunities for younger students to learn coding as part of their school's curriculum, as well as extracurricular clubs and summer programs.
Additionally, the formation of WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is more good news. This program is the initiative of several U.S. colleges and universities, like Harvard, Loyola University Chicago, Manchester Community College, Harvey Mudd College, and many others. The program aims to bring awareness to this shortfall of women in these industries, connect students to leading companies, and offer mentorship.
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