IT and Computing: Where Women are Underrepresented

Female IT support
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Women outnumber men in a number of college degrees obtained. Yet, when we dig deeper into the technology arena, specifically the computer science and the IT industries, the number of women entering technology is actually decreasing.

In a 2014 study conducted by Google, in the mid-1980s, 37% of women went into computer science, whereas in 2012, only 18% of all women majored in computer science. And, according to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, women comprise only one-quarter of the tech industry.

What are the reasons for these disparate numbers? The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs needing to be filled. So why aren’t more women entering the computer science and IT industries? Let’s take a good look.

The Great Gender Divide in Computer Technology

Gender-inequity issues abound here, as based on that same study administered by Google. After surveying approximately 1600 women and men, here is what they revealed:

  • Girls are less likely encouraged to study computer science than are boys. And the number isn’t small – the Google study revealed a 50-percent disparity.

  • Girls are not taught in school exactly what computer science means.

  • When asked what computer science means, girls largely denoted it as, “difficult,” “boring,” and “technology.”  

In May 2014, Google told the world a bit about its workforce in that only 30 percent are female.

 Take a look at other social media giants’ workforces, based on gender:

  • Yahoo employs 37% women

  • LinkedIn employs 39% women

  • Facebook employs 37% women

Digging a Bit Deeper

Breaking it down a bit further, Microsoft reports only 29% of its workforce are women with just under 17% holding technical positions, and 22% in management roles.

 

  • Google also employs only 17% women in a technical capacity, with 21% in leadership roles.

  • Female employees at Twitter fill merely 10% of its workforce for whom a mere 21% are in management.  

  • Fewer women than men are influencing technical product development in a world where companies with varying points of view thrive (as opposed to those who are less diverse).  

Yet interestingly, women outnumber men by 17% in Internet usage. Intel’s Genevieve Bell piloted some research in 2012 that uncovered additional statistics which show more technology usage by women than men in the following areas:

  • Mobile phones

  • Location-based services

  • Social media sites

  • Skype

So what are we talking about here? Clearly, women aren’t afraid to use technology. Perhaps women are more reticent about going into the field of technology. Make no mistake about it: women are high users of technology, and as Intel reveals, more so than are men in some very major areas.

Bridging the Gender Gap in IT, Computer Science & Engineering

Change is here, though. According to the University of California Berkeley, for the first time since Berkley has been tracking the data, recently more women than men enrolled in introductory computer science classes offered at the university.

The Obama Administration has also been closely watching gender inequities where girls, boys, and computer science are concerned.

Witness President Obama’s statement regarding Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), “One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science and [computer, etc.] engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent that is not being encouraged.”

With a number of women in technology declining, STEM is entering the public schools with a vengeance. Here teachers, administrators, and politicians are infiltrating STEM-based education in a very transparent and holistic fashion. And everyone’s on board.

 

With that said, it is imperative that schools and communities continue to come together to bridge gender disparities for those entering the fields of IT and computer science.