In the modern world, technology is everywhere. Whether it is to do work, to communicate, or to get from one place to another, everyone uses and depends on tech. And as consumers become increasingly reliant on technology, they are continually seeking better, faster, more capable machines.. Because of this insatiable demand, technology is one of the most impactful and quickly-growing industries in the 21st century, and it’s not likely to slow down any time soon.
However, while the tech industry continues to grow rapidly, it remains completely male-dominated, with women making up only 28% of the tech workforce. This is an improvement over the early 2000s, when women were only 9% of the workforce, but it means that the tech industry is still missing out on the creative, innovative, and diverse thinking that the women bring to the table, with research showing that diversity helps improve team decision-making by 73%. This shows that we must continue our mission to empower more women to pursue careers in tech.
In 2022, women made up 49% of the workforce across all industries in the U.S. and 50% of all STEM majors in college. However, women were only 22% of engineering college graduates and 20% of computer science college graduates. Why is there such a huge discrepancy?
One of the main reasons is the gender biases women face when pursuing a career in tech. These biases can be subtle, but they can create mental hurdles that affect a woman’s self-confidence and sense of belonging in the workplace, and ultimately their career trajectories. This leads to many women switching majors or quitting after only a short time in the industry. For example, one thing many women in tech suffer from is imposter syndrome, where despite their accomplishments, they feel as if they don’t belong or aren’t as skilled as their male co-workers. Many women also face microaggressions or a hostile work environment. This can take any form, from condescending remarks from co-workers or superiors to false assumptions about their role in the workplace, to even being harassed, excluded, or discriminated against.
Another reason is the lack of female mentors and role models in tech. A survey by Microsoft shows that while most girls become interested in STEM in early middle school, by age 15, most of them have lost their interest. This is because when women see the very small number of successful female leaders in tech - only 21% of tech companies have a female CEO and only 11% of tech companies have a female CFO - it can reinforce the idea that this industry is not for them, creating a vicious cycle of female underrepresentation. The lack of female mentors can also lead to fewer networking opportunities, which can isolate women from important connections and opportunities for growth. This contributes to the “glass ceiling” that many women feel exists in the tech industry.
To address these issues and successfully attract and retain more women to tech, we must create inclusive communities where women can feel respected and supported. In the past few years, there are many organizations that have been working hard to do this.
One organization is Girls Who Code, an international non-profit which aims to close the gender gap in technology by teaching young girls important computer science skills through their summer Immersion Program; after-school clubs in the U.S., Canada, India, and the UK; their books, and more. BeHASSTic recognizes that we must do our part to inspire girls and support women in tech, and we partner with Girls Who Code to run two weekly K-12 clubs that provide a fun and safe environment for girls to explore coding and technology.
Another organization working to bring more women into tech is the Grace Hopper Celebration, a 3-day event with over 26,000 participants. It is the world’s largest gathering of women who work in the tech industry, and it features talks by female speakers, Q&A sessions with successful female leaders, career fairs, and important networking opportunities.
These efforts are the key to bringing more women into tech. By creating environments and spaces where women can feel respected and not afraid to contribute and voice their thoughts out loud, we can help address gender biases in the tech industry, give young women role models to look up to, and provide them with important female connections in a male-dominated industry. This will bring more diverse and creative thinking to the table and allow technology to continue to flourish.