Women in Tech: Pushing for inclusivity and diversity

Women have been systematically excluded from the field throughout history due to stereotypes about their abilities. 
1 February 2022

Women in tech are still underrepresented and often discriminated: attributed to many reasons, including female role models and toxic workplace culture. Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock

  • Women in tech are still underrepresented, underpaid, and often discriminated
  • The lack of women in the industry can be attributed to many reasons, including scarcity of female role models and toxic workplace culture
  • Despite women’s qualifications, companies and investors will often choose to invest in male founders

Since the dawn of time, an old saying has been around – “behind every great man, there’s a great woman.” This phrase could not be truer than in the tech industry.

As we all know, there are many diverse types of tech jobs: networkers, cybersecurity specialists, programmers, website developers and managers, IT technicians and hardware engineers. But one thing is for sure – women are underrepresented in these careers. 

This is not a new problem – women have been, and are still, underpaid and often discriminated against in the tech industry.

Women are still underrepresented, underpaid, and often discriminated

A 2020 study by the AnitaB.org Institute found that women make up 28.8% of the tech workforce compared to 26.2% in 2019, which means that out of every four people working in IT, only one is female.

The statistics are mind-blowing: women hold about 14% of software engineering and a quarter (25%) of computer-science-related jobs. Moreover, studies show that female software engineers have only increased by 2% in 21 years. And these sparse numbers are not by accident. 

Women in tech systematically excluded from the field

Women have been systematically excluded from the field throughout history due to stereotypes about their abilities. This includes their supposed incompetence in math and science or their lack of interest in technology and computers. However, research has proven that 74% of girls express a desire for a career in STEM fields.

Another reason is that most people don’t know how to recognize gender bias in the workplace. There is such a high demand for skilled labor, and as the workforce shifts towards accepting more women, it begs the question — is it time for companies to allow women into these positions, traditionally (and quaintly) thought to be the bastion of males?

Diversity is critical for women in tech

Gender balance in the tech industry is a touchy subject.  The lack of women in the industry can be attributed to many reasons, including a scarcity of female role models and toxic workplace culture.

Diversity is essential for tech companies because it helps them create better products. Diversity in a company’s workforce allows for more creativity, which leads to innovation and high-quality products

As a result, diverse teams can build innovative and beneficial projects for consumers. A study by McKinsey reported that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion.

The degree gap shows that STEM is still a male-dominated field 

STEM majors are still traditionally thought of as male-dominated. A study from MIT indicates that young people are interested in STEM early but begin to lose interest as they become older due to a lack of interaction and inspiring female role models and mentors in the STEM fields.

Recent stem statistics also show that women hold only 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees.  This is concerning as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that computer science research jobs will grow 19% by 2026. Despite the high job demand, this remains a male-dominated field in the US.

Workplace culture gap for women in tech

Despite many initiatives, campaigns, and even laws to boost women’s presence in the technology industry, their numbers are still woefully lowWhy are there fewer women in tech jobs than men?

According to a new study by the Harvard Business Review, the gap can be traced to male-dominated workplaces.In some cases, the tension is due to a lack of mentorship and sponsorship. These are the women who want to pursue higher-level roles within their company.

A Kaspersky report highlighted how women involved in enterprise tech arenas lacked relatable role models. “When you have mentors around you to show you the way, it can be quite easy to follow in their footsteps,” commented Evgeniya Naumova, the VP of the global sales network at Kaspersky.

Hindering a woman’s ability to succeed in the tech industry

There are many other obstacles that women must overcome in the tech industry, but what is most discouraging is not having equal opportunities as men. Despite their qualifications, companies and investors will often choose to invest in male founders. 

According to a report from TrustRadius, 72% of women said they have worked for a company where “bro culture” is “pervasive,” while only 41% of men said the same. TrustRadius defines “bro culture” broadly as anything from an “uncomfortable work environment to sexual harassment and assault.”

Tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook parent Meta have also been criticized for their lack of diversity. And one area where female employees are underrepresented is in the tech industry leadership positions

However, there has been a slight improvement as these three companies recorded better percentages of female employees in more recent times. Diversity in tech statistics reported that a third (33%) of Apple’s employees and 23% of its technical team were women, while Google said that 32% of its employees were women, and Meta recorded 37%.

A 2020 analysis by Mercer showed that even though women make up more than half the workforce at these three companies, they comprise only 27% of technical professions and 25% of management roles. Research by Silicon Valley Bank has also shown that only 37% of women are on the board of directors, while men hold 63% of the role.

In 2020, around 40% of businesses in the US were owned by women. However, it was relayed that 2.3% of the global venture capital funding was directed to women-led startups in the same year.

Women in STEM statistics have shown that women are abandoning their jobs at a 45% higher rate than the men in their industry. The most common reasons that women quit their jobs include work-life balance and weak management support.

Women reporting facing more burnout than their male colleagues

Burnout is a growing problem among women in tech. Yet, it has remained an issue that’s often swept under the rug as more women struggle to enter the industry. Women are often targets of harassment and discrimination, contributing to feelings of isolation and anxiety — which in turn is a short skip away from mental exhaustion and burning out. 

The TrustRadius report found that more than half (57%) of women surveyed said they experienced more burnout than average during the pandemic, compared to about a third (36%) of men who said the same.

Many women in tech are out there right now, working hard and being leaders within their field. There are still a significant number of women that choose to stay at home and raise their families. 

This has nothing to do with a lack of interest or skill, but societal norms have long called for women to be homemakers. However, it is time for more women to take on the lead role in technology and other innovation-driven companies — which should be more forward-looking than most, since that is practically their job descriptions — and fill skilled labor positions.