Women and Minorities in Tech
In the United States, statistics show that women overall earn roughly 28 percent of computer science degrees in the United States and that they make up 46.9 percent of the tech industry. While this is roughly half of the tech workforce, the proportion of women to men in specific occupations within the tech industry is less encouraging. Of the top-earning occupations included in the United States Department of Labour annual averages, women make up 26.7 percent of Computer and Information Systems Managers, 19.8 percent of Software Developers, and 12.4 percent of Computer Network Architects.
Glassdoor reports that on average, women in tech earn roughly three quarters of what men earn, when holding level of education and experience constant. The proportion of women to men in tech is even more drastic when climbing the ranks, with women holding far fewer managerial and executive level positions: statistics show that women hold only 11 percent of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, and only 5 percent of tech start ups are run by women. Statistics tell a story about systemic barriers faced by women interested in pursuing STEM careers and the best tech jobs, and while an upward trend in women’s involvement in tech sectors is encouraging, our tech industries should continue to push forward on the path towards true gender diversity in the tech workforce.
In recent years, the United Kingdom has emerged as one of the world’s leading technology innovators, with major investments being pooled into London in particular, home to a number of major start ups. Initiatives such as London Technology Week work to bolster London’s position as a global capital for tech and innovation. With a promising tech industry that has emerged only in the last decade, during a time when a number of innovative initiatives were developed to encourage women to pursue STEM-related studies and careers in the United States, we’re curious about the gender diversity of the UK’s technology industry. It looks like more of the same, but slightly worse:
Statistics show that women make up just over one-sixth of technology and engineering undergraduates, and while women and men enrolled in technology and engineering programs express equal levels of interest in pursuing careers in their field, significantly more men than women go on to do so. In regards to the workforce, the Women in Technology Project reports that while there has been a small rise in the number of women pursuing STEM careers, women currently make up only 15% of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals. A discouraging report by Tech London Advocates shows that 48 percent of women in London-based tech companies hold less than 25 percent of senior management roles, and just under a quarter of these companies’ senior management teams “reflect the gender diversity of London’s population.” There are some encouraging statistics, however: 21 percent of tech companies have a woman in a chief executive role.
While overall, the current climate for women in tech in the UK is chilly, London is being applauded as the epicentre of opportunity for women in tech. According to a report by London Technology Week, London boasts employment of 40 percent of the UK’s entire women tech community. The report skews reality though, as the concentration of women in tech in London does not reflect national tech diversity statistics. It is clear that, as is the case in the United States, the United Kingdom has a long way to go on the path towards a truly gender-diverse tech workforce.
While UK statistics seem slightly less encouraging than the numbers in the United States, Brits are indeed taking action against the barriers faced by girls and women in tech.
Women in Technology Project
The Women in Technology Project acknowledges that “societal belief and learning environment” as well as a lack of female role models in tech and an androcentric work environment are the most significant factor afflicting women and girls’ propensity for engagement in STEM subjects. UK-based initiatives such as the WISE Campaign, Next Tech Girls, and Tech London Advocates have emerged, with a mission to encourage young girls’ and women’s interest in and pursuit of STEM careers, and a desire to improve gender equality and the experience of women in tech across all STEM sectors.
Essentially, there is a common thread between the United States and the United Kingdom in regards to women in tech and diversity initiatives geared towards reshaping the disproportionate ratio of men to women across the industry.