Women in Technology

  • 22nd July 2016

Women are gradually gaining representation in a bigger variety of industries and at more senior levels; case in point: the British Prime Minister is a woman.

This does not seem to have translated to the world of technology, where woman are still woefully underrepresented. New research by British Gas shows two thirds of the public surveyed agree with the statement “do you think the tech industry offers more opportunities for men?” and 3/4 of those who were asked believe men are more likely to be appointed to leadership roles within tech.

In that same research, British Gas found 75% of young professionals aged between 25 and 34 consider tech to be male-dominated. 55% of women say they would be encouraged to choose tech if there were more mentoring schemes available and they had access to support networks in the workplace. 68% of men working in technology want to see more women join the industry.

TechCrunch reports that “only 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26% of computing jobs are held by women. It’s worse at the top of the corporate world — just 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women”.

Many cite a lack of female role models in tech and an absence of encouragement at school age as key factors for the disproportionately low number of women in the industry. Further reasons include the ever-present pop culture representation as computer programmers and IT workers being almost entirely male.

There are certainly some female role models, holding highly powerful and influential roles within the tech industry, as ranked by Forbes, 2016:

  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, ranks as Forbes’ 7th most powerful woman
  • Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube is just behind Sheryl at #8
  • Meg Whitman is ranked 9th, as CEO of HPE

Angela Merkel, while not known primarily for her work with technology, was ranked the second most powerful person in the world in 2015, only behind Vladimir Putin. Within that same list of the 100 most influential people in 2015, Ginni Rometty (IBM) is the highest-ranking woman in tech, ranking 63rd overall, behind 11 men in tech.

Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that 74% of girls questioned at middle school express an interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) industries, however, as above, only 26% of computing jobs are held by women. Something happens at school that minimises the likelihood of young women entering the STEM industries professionally.

In recent years there has been an effort to inspire children around STEM careers, and in my own personal experience at these events, the girls are encouraged as much as the boys, however of course this is only a very small sample.

At a more professional age, there are events specifically designed to build up women in tech. Women of Silicon Roundabout “was created to inspire and connect women working in technology”, and they are holding an event in London in October, following a sell-out launch conference in January. You can sign up here. These events look to simultaneously develop tech professionals as well as push boundaries around the gender gap. WoSR is open to women and men “to discuss issues relating to Women in Tech Leadership, female founders, bridging the gender gap, non-technical women in tech and inspiring future generations of girls into the sector”.

Support for equality for women comes from many different places. Pop rapper Nicki Minaj has advocated women’s rights and highlighted racism, misogyny and sexuality throughout her career. She encourages women to own their greatness and understand their professional worth. “I would tell women starting out in business, if you know you’re great at what you do, don’t ever be ashamed to ask for the top dollar in your field,” she says. “If I’m great at what I do, I can’t be denied”.

So, the role models are there, and events do happen, although these may be in small numbers for the time being. It is important that the spotlight continue to shine on the gaping ravine between the genders in tech, and that we as an industry and indeed as a people work towards equal opportunities for all.

So, regardless of which bathroom you use, take a look at our technology jobs here.

Sources
britishgas.co.uk/media/r/1417/tech_industry_still_viewed_as_a_boys__club
techcrunch.com/2016/05/10/the-lack-of-women-in-tech-is-more-than-a-pipeline-problem
time.com/4300095/nicki-minaj-time-100-video
forbes.com/powerful-people/list

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