The tech industry is at an all-time high resulting in reaching the $3 trillion mark in 2018. Also, the speed of growth is also accelerating. If in 2017, the global purchase of tech software, hardware, and services was at 3.4%, in 2018, that percentage point reached 4%.
But despite being one of the industries of the future, IT is not exempt from its share of stereotypes, particularly concerning gender inequality. Statistically speaking, women make up roughly 60% of the United States workforce, yet they only represent 25% of the tech sector.
What’s even more troublesome when it comes to women in the IT sector, is the low retention rates, which is half that of men’s. This trend is also evident at a younger age, as well. Around 74% of girls express an interest in various STEM fields and computer science. But by the time they have to choose a career path, many of them change their minds. Nevertheless, things are changing for the better and they’re changing fast.
Why so Few Women in Tech?
First, the negative. Several trends may shine a light on why there are fewer women in the tech industry than men as well as the high turnover rate.
One of the most cited reasons is unfairness. “Unfairness or mistreatment within the work environment was the most frequently cited reason for leaving, with 37% of the sample indicating that unfair treatment was a major factor in their decision to leave their company.”
Another common reason for a high turnover rate is a toxic work environment. Harassment, bullying, and stereotyping of both women and people of color are undercutting tech companies’ diversification efforts. It realizes a cost averaging $16 billion per year.
These reasons presented here aren’t limited to only the IT industry, however. They can be found pretty much everywhere where men traditionally made up the majority. Yet despite these figures, the future looks much better than the past.
The Future of Women in IT
Some of the biggest names in the industry have set up various graduate programs to counteract these issues. KPMG, the large professional service company, for instance, has initiated a program called IT’s Her Future, aimed at boosting the number of women in the company’s tech roles.
One of the program’s focuses was to have access to a larger talent pool by targeting grads from non-IT and non-STEM backgrounds. And in a little less than three years, from 2015 to 2018, the program increased the rate of women in tech roles from roughly 30% to over 50%.
Besides, more and more tech companies are beginning to realize the benefits of having a diverse workforce. George Brasher, Vice President and General Manager at HP in the UK and Ireland said that “Having a more diverse team gives you a better chance of winning. At HP we firmly believe that the more points of view a business can draw on, the better its products and the company as a whole will be.”
Historically, women in male-dominated sectors have had a pretty tough time fitting in. Luckily, however, more and more tech companies are changing that by first providing more learning and inclusion opportunities. In short, the future of women in tech looks much brighter. And let’s not forget that the future is already here.
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