Female representation in tech at a glance
Throughout their school lives, girls tend to excel across all subject areas yet when it comes to pursuing a job in computer sciences, they end up being greatly outnumbered by their male counterparts at university. According to the Guardian, a survey conducted revealed that 73% of both men and women believe that the tech industry is sexist*. Many people like to put blame on or find reasons to point fingers at companies who are purposefully being gender biased – but that really isn’t the case. When you take a closer look into the problem, the solution isn’t to encourage the industry to hire more women, it is about encouraging girls to take an interest in technology. Not only using the newest tech gadgets but also develop them.
General statistics show that in Europe alone less than 7% of tech positions are filled by women*. Needless to say, there is a prominent gap which isn’t helped by the fact that women also only account for 20% of tech leadership positions*. As the jobs themselves are already very male dominated, this can discourage women from joining as well as keeping the jobs. According to the Center for Talent Innovation, of those who do make it into a STEM field, women are 45% more likely to leave their jobs*. This can be down to several factors including an overall feeling of not belonging and isolation or even not getting enough support especially when choosing to start a family. This is where many media sites try to divert the attention to and label it as the ‘problem’ as if this is the root of the issue. However, this is more of the effect rather than the cause – the real issue arises much earlier.
Only 1 in 20 girls consider tech jobs compared to 1 in 5 boys.*
If we want to close this massive gender gap, we need to get more girls.
Root of the problem
More girls means more women – logical, right? Currently, many girls don’t develop an interest in technology which would potentially translate into more women pursuing STEM subjects at university level. From a very young age girls tend to gravitate towards creative areas whereas boys towards logic either by nature or external factors. For this reason, it all comes down to how we choose to raise our kids and the paths we open up for them.
It’s not that companies aren choosing not to hire women, it’s just that there aren’t enough women applying for these jobs. There are, of course, cases of in group favoritism, where a mostly male committee will choose to hire other males but again this would change if the inflow of women was much higher than it is now.
Many girls have the idea that tech jobs are completely logic and math oriented, which for the most part it is, but we need to encourage girls from early on that coding is more than that – it’s more than just maths, it’s creative, it’s fascinating, it’s rewarding and they are more than capable of doing it. Often girls aren’t encouraged or given the opportunity to try out coding which denies them the chance to make their own initial judgement. It is vital that this is done in an environment where they aren’t influenced by what the media portrays is ‘correct’ for their gender. We need to start portraying these tech jobs in ways that target both the interests of girls and boys alike.
Why tech industries need women
Companies can benefit greatly from having more gender diversity. As girls are on average more creative-minded, so are the ideas they bring to the table. This can increase innovation as well as profits. Businesses with a high representation of female board directors can expect an increase of 42% on return on sales as well as higher valuations in initial and final fundings (64% and 49% respectively)*. There are many courses and programs online that are trying to reach out to young girls. The goals are clear, give girls the confidence to join this massive industry. Here in Switzerland – TechSpark Academy offer many camps and courses that are ALL open to both boys and girls and are always on the lookout to encourage more young women to join.
The tech industry is quite vast and there are aspects that will repel as well as interest girls. The image of a coder on the other hand is so narrow but what many girls need to realize is that there are so many exciting jobs within the industry. Here are some, just to name a few:
Web Developers and Web Designers: You don’t just need a good coding background but also need creative and design skills. You are able to design the overall look of a website or app and how the features should be displayed. In a way, a web designer/developer is an artist but you paint with code and not brushes.
UI/UX Designers: These designers have to think about how the users interact with the app. It is all about aesthetic and creating the best experience for the user.
Animators or Game Developers: As the title suggests, you work with creating exciting video games or even have the opportunity to work in the film industry. Women are often misrepresented, especially in video games, and having more female game developers could have a massive impact on how girls are portrayed.
Engineers: Like with the tech industry, engineering covers a wide range of areas including; agriculture, biomedical, chemical, transport and many many more. Here you have the opportunity to uncover how things work and how to create or produce things which can benefit our society in several different ways.
Women and girls are more than capable and more than welcome to join these “male dominated” industries. We just need to start giving them the support and encouragement to allow them to do so. If we start putting blame on the industry, we aren’t going to evoke any change. Girls have more to offer than they think and should be a vital part of global digital transformation.
Let’s inspire more girls to learn, create and develop with the power of technology.
Written by Malti Redeker(16 years old) – TechSpark Academy 2019 Girls Coding Ambassador
References: *Next Generation. “Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech?” Next Generation, Aug. 2018