We Need to Break the Male-Dominated Mold
The low number of women in tech is a contentious issue, especially in disciplines that include software engineer and data analytics jobs. It’s stopping companies from taking advantages of the many benefits of gender diversity, such as greater creativity and innovation, better decision-making, and higher valuations.
You might be surprised to discover just how male dominated the tech sector is, in both numbers in work and salaries paid. In this article, we look at why this may be.
The Gender Gap – Closing, but Still Too Wide
The United States has made great strides in narrowing the gender gap in employment, but the tech sector remains male dominated. According to Pew Research, across the United States economy women now make up 47% of the workforce. That’s up from around 30% in 1950.
There has also been progress made in the general gender pay gap in the United States. Glassdoor’s 2019 Progress on the Gender Pay Gap Research found that the controlled pay gap (which allows for factors such as age, education, experience, etc.) has decreased from around 5.4% in 2016 to 4.9% in 2019. So, we’re making progress, but there is still more to do. Then we come to the tech sector.
The Gender Gap in the Tech Sector Is Huge
According to research, only 26% of computing jobs are held by women, and whereas the female proportion of the workforce has been steadily increasing in the United States economy, it’s a different story in the tech sector. Studies show that the number of women in tech roles has been on a steady decline.
The figures are even more marked in Silicon Valley startups, where it has been estimated that a paltry 12% of engineers are women and only 11% of executive positions are held by females. But it’s not only at startups that we see huge discrepancy between gender hiring. Figures compiled by Statista show that among the GAFAM companies (Google; Amazon; Facebook; Apple; Microsoft) only around 23% of their tech employees are female.
The pay gap is shocking, too, and especially in more technical jobs. In recent analysis conducted by Dice, it was found that, on average:
• Female data architects earn more than $13,000 less than their male equivalents
• Female data scientists are paid an average of $9,561 less than male data scientists
• Female software engineers are paid an average of $8,559 less than male software engineers
Why Are There So Few Females in Tech Roles?
There are several reasons why women are underrepresented in technology jobs in the United States. They mostly relate to institutionalized gender bias, and include:
• Gender Stereotypes Leading to a Smaller Female Talent Pool
Grandparents, parents, and schools deliver a gender stereotype that boys are better at science and math than girls. This discourages females from studying for technology and science subjects. Men taking technology and engineering degrees outnumber women by between four and five to one. With so few women coming through with suitable education, there is a far smaller pool of female talent for employers to choose from. This leads to a gender bias in hiring.
• Unconscious Cultural Bias
The American Sociological Review found that hiring managers lean toward recruiting people who are like themselves. They favor candidates who have similar hobbies, likes and dislikes, experiences, etc. When an interview panel is dominated by male interviewers, it’s easy to understand that they are likely to favor male candidates.
• Women Are More Likely to Leave Tech Jobs
The Women in Tech: The Facts report finds that women are more than twice as likely to leave tech roles as men. The reasons for leaving could include a hostile male culture, a feeling of isolation, and a lack of effective sponsors which leads to fewer career opportunities. Often, women in tech are seen as being more capable in the ‘softer roles’ – demonstrated, perhaps, by a far higher average salary than men when employed as technical writers.
When women leave tech jobs, a quarter take a non-technical job in a different company, while almost as many become self-employed, and a fifth take a break from work. This leaves only around a third who move to other companies in tech roles.
How Can We Close the Gender Gap in Technology Jobs?
There isn’t a quick fix to closing the gender gap, but there are things that we can all do. Actions we can take include:
• Parents encouraging daughters to take a keener interest in STEM subjects
• At school and colleges, encouraging girls to take a greater interest in technology and removing the bias in education
• Companies need to work on their corporate culture, with gender bias training, for example
• Ensuring that more women are present in executive meetings
• Companies sponsoring schools and colleges to encourage females into technology
• Actively seeking to recruit females, and closing the pay gap further
Research by Morgan Stanley has found that greater gender diversity has a substantial effect on your business outcomes. They cite better returns, lower volatility, and five-year outperformance as demonstrable results because of greater gender diversity. A report by McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns than industry medians.
Perhaps the question that needs to be answered is not how tech companies can improve their gender balance, but if they can afford not to. To access a great pool of talent for your technology jobs, contact Irvine Technology Corporation today. We’re here to help you be the difference.