According to Women in Tech Network, it will take about 133 years to close the economic gender gap. The severe lack of diversity, especially in the tech industry, is problematic and horrific. The World Bank reports that globally women make up less than 40% of the global workforce. “Inequality in the workplace begins with inequality in the classroom. Research has shown that the gender stereotyping of STEM subjects such as mathematics and science is directly linked to fewer girls choosing the subjects in both high school and secondary education.”
How do we start to solve the issue of the lack of diversity in tech? We have to start by making STEM education accessible to all. Early exposure will be critical if we want girls interested in tech. According to a USNews article, for girls, interest in STEM seems to decline as they get older. Thirty-one percent of middle school girls believe that jobs requiring coding and programming are “not for them,” according to a 2018 Microsoft Philanthropies report. That percentage jumps to 40% in high school, while 58% of girls count themselves out of a job in these fields beginning in college.
Making STEM accessible is not the only solution; exposure to role models and mentors is also essential. Hands-on STEM training and exposure to the various tech fields will help all students understand the global impact of technology on our daily lives. It will help them get excited about being innovative and creative. Early childhood STEM education will help boost interest in STEM professionals.
According to USNews, “experts say that providing youth – especially young girls and students of color – with role models and access to STEM-related activities or clubs can help them see these subjects’ possibilities and real-world applications.” Both inside and outside the classroom, STEM education will be a crucial catalyst in helping girls and underrepresented students see themselves as future tech professionals.
A report from Zippia.com shows that 74% of girls desire a STEM career. Girls should be encouraged to cultivate this desire and interest to obtain STEM careers. One company that is working on promoting STEM in Early childhood education is BAE Systems. I recently interviewed Laurel Skiff, Pre & Early Career Outreach Program Lead, and discussed the 4 STEM high school programs currently available in my state, New Hampshire.
BAE STEM programs currently available for high school students in New Hampshire are:
1) STEM Talks Virtual Program
2) Engineering Career Day
3) Women In Tech
I recently interviewed Laurel Skiff on the Get Tech Smart; watch the episode and learn more about BAE’s commitment and passion to helping students explore Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. I am excited that ManchesterInkLink.com featured this episode.
- As of 2022, women make up 28% of the tech industry workforce.
- Women make up 34.4% of the workforce of the U.S.’s largest tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
- Only 15% of engineering jobs are held by women, making it the STEM field where women are most highly underrepresented.
- 39% of women in tech say that they see gender bias as an obstacle to getting a promotion.
- Women are most underrepresented in physical science (40%), computer (25%), and engineering (15%) jobs.
- 26.5% of executive, senior-level and management positions in SP 500 companies are held by women.
Attracting and retaining a diverse workplace will be crucial to helping bridge the economic gender gap. Now more than ever, we need to be mindful of the lack of diversity in technology that could potentially threaten the United States’ ability to remain a global technology leader. Studies show that diverse companies are more innovative, creative, and productive. Companies with a diverse workforce earn more revenue than those without. Companies not only need to hire diverse tech talent, but they also need to create, promote and celebrate diverse voices by creating a welcoming and supportive environment.
The tech statistics are problematic, but raising awareness and sounding the alarm is the first part. Next is finding the solutions and creating long-term strategies that help create diversity in the tech industry. We have a long road ahead of us, it will be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Diversity in tech is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have, and tech organizations need to be cognizant of the troublesome diversity statistics and be mindful of their hiring practices and work cultures. There is no one size fits all solution to diversity, but the statistics speak volumes of the need for action NOW.