When girls in middle school were asked if they enjoy science, technology, engineering, and math, 74% of them said yes.
Almost three quarters of girls liked classes that involved creating and proving a hypothesis and lessons that required relational thinking and problem solving.
Well then it might surprise you to learn that just a few years later, only 0.3% of girls chose computer science as a college major.
Another alarming fact is that in 1984, 37% of computer science graduates were women, and today, it’s only 12%.
Girls who are interested in STEM are growing into women that are avoiding technical and computing jobs, and this trend isn’t good for them.
In fact, it isn’t good for any of us.
“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”
Sheryl Sandberg; Facebook COO
Why Women Deserve the Tech Industry
Women are wildly underrepresented in the STEM community. While women make up half the US workforce, only 25% of technical or computing jobs are held by women, even though STEM jobs are desirable, stable, and enjoyable.
The Tech Job Marketing Is Large and Growing
According to a 2015 report by CompTIA, 129,500 new tech jobs were created between 2013 and 2014. The total number of tech jobs represents 5.7% of private sector jobs in the U.S., coming in at 6.5 million jobs. STEM industries are thriving.
Tech Jobs Are High-Paying
A 2015 report by Glassdoor compiled a list of the “25 Best Jobs In America.” Of the best jobs on their list, ten were related to STEM. Seven were tech jobs.
- Software Engineer: Average Base Salary: $98,074
- Database Administrator: Average Base Salary: $97,835
- Data Scientist: Average Base Salary: $104,476
- Solutions Architect: Average Base Salary: $121,657
- IT Project Manager: Average Base Salary: $103,710
- Network Engineer: Average Base Salary: $87,518
- Mobile Developer: Average Base Salary: $79,810
It’s not just high-paying salaries that make these top jobs. According to the report, these jobs were listed in the top 25 due to their average base salary and factors related to career opportunities and number of job openings.
“Like all relationships there is a lot to be gained by having a difference of perspective. A male + female conversation and viewpoint can often times lead to complimentary progression which aides in achieving milestones at an accelerated rate. This is why it is just as important to have women in tech as it is to have men involved in tech.”
Espree Devora; Founder of the upcoming #WomeninTech Podcast
Tech Jobs Are Satisfying
In a study to find the “10 Happiest Jobs in America,” researchers asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with their job in seven categories (person one works for, people one works with, support one receives, rewards one receives, growth opportunities available, company culture, and the way one works and handles daily tasks). Researchers used the responses to compile a list of the ten jobs that made people happiest. Five STEM jobs made the list.
- Systems Developer
- Senior Software Engineer
- Website Developer
- Oracle Database Administrator
- Automation Engineer
Tech jobs are growing. They are high paying and satisfying. Yet only 0.3% of girls are majoring in the computer science field. It’s a bigger problem than we think.
Why The Tech Industry Needs Women
This all sounds great, we all can appreciate fairness and equality for all. But what is in it for me or my business?
A tech company without a balanced representation of women won’t and can’t grow to its full potential.
The same could be said about the entire industry.
We Need Women To Fuel the Workforce
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that there were will be 1.4 million computer specialist jobs openings in 2020, but universities are expected to only produce enough graduates to fill 29% of those jobs. We literally need women to help drive the tech economy. Without them, we may not have the workforce to support the growing industry.
“I would like women to earn 58% of the (computer science) degrees, because women earn 58% of college degrees.”
“As a society, I think we need to encourage girls to pursue their dreams, whether that is in technology or some other male-driven industry. Smart, determined females are very powerful and we need to give girls the tools and inspiration they need to follow their dreams.”
Mandy McEwen; Founder and President of Mod Girl Marketing
Passing on Women Is Passing on Opportunity — Especially In the Startup World
Only 7% of investor money goes to women-led startups, according to Women Who Tech. By ignoring women-founded startups, we might be missing out big time. We may not have some of our favorite businesses and brands if we overlooked the women who founded them.
- Nasty Gal
- One Kings Lane
- Stella & Dot
Only 13% of venture-backed companies had a least one female co-founder, and women-run businesses account for only 10% of all venture capital deals in the software sector. This needs to change if we are expected to find the next big thing in the startup community.
Tech Is Global and Needs to Represent Everyone
The technology industry is innovative and global. In order for businesses, startups, and technology to continue to evolve and include a vast and varied world of consumers and users, they need to listen to and understand voices in all sectors.
Many tech companies don’t have enough women giving feedback. Fortune compiled data on workforce demographics from 14 tech companies. Nearly all of the tech companies saw a large disparity between the percentage of men and women working at the company. Among the worst were:
- Microsoft — 72% Male | 28% Female
- Facebook — 69% Male | 31% Female
- Apple — 70% Male | 30% Female
- Google — 70% Male | 30% Female
- Twitter — 70% Male | 30% Female
Most of these numbers were even more favorable toward males when looking at leadership positions.
A powerful woman holding a leadership position at one of the world’s largest tech companies hopes to change that.
Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, recently told USA Today, “At the broadest level, we are not going to fix the numbers for under-representation in technology or any industry until we fix our education system and until we fix the stereotypes about women and minorities in math and science.”
We Need to Invite More Women Into Tech
While Sandberg may be the most powerful woman in tech pressing the issue of inviting and supporting more women in tech, she is not the only one.
Tech companies and groups are leaning toward providing more opportunities for women to join the STEM community. Programs that support women in tech and encourage young women and girls to join the community include:
- TechWomen (in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs)
- Women Techmakers (in partnership with Google)
- WEST: Women Entering and Staying in Tech (in partnership with Facebook, Pinterest, and Box)
- Girls Who Code
- Women Who Tech
But programs aren’t always enough.
In order for women to want to join the STEM community, they need to be welcomed in the workplace, equally valued for their talents, and respected in the industry.
“There is a lot of buzz around ‘women in tech’ this year and I love that we are finally talking about this” said Founder and President of Mod Girl Marketing, Mandy McEwen.
“For me, women in tech is nothing new as my team at Mod Girl is full of tech-savvy females. As a society, I think we need to encourage girls to pursue their dreams, whether that is in technology or some other male-driven industry. Smart, determined females are very powerful and we need to give girls the tools and inspiration they need to follow their dreams.”
Women are powerful, valuable and necessary assets in the tech community and we can’t afford to see less than 1% of girls continue to walk away from an industry that wants and needs them.