Women in tech statistics: The hard truths of an uphill battle – ITworld

Diversity is critical in tech, as it enables companies to create better and safer products that take everyone into consideration, not just one section of society. A report from McKinsey found that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion. Despite this, women remain widely underrepresented in IT roles.

Statistics from the following seven facets of IT work, ranging from higher education to workplace environment, paint a clear picture of the challenges women face in finding equal footing in a career in IT.

The employment gap

Women make up 47 percent of all employed adults in the U.S., but as of 2015, they hold only 25 percent of computing roles, according to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). Of the 25 percent of women working in tech, Asian women make up just 5 percent of that number, while black and Hispanic women accounted for 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively. All this despite the fact that the growth of STEM jobs has outpaced the growth of overall employment in the country, growing 79 percent since 1990 while overall employment has grown 34 percent, according to data from Pew Research Center. Despite national conversations about the lack of diversity in tech, women are disproportionally missing out on this boom.

The degree gap

According to data from the National Science Foundation, more women than ever are earning STEM degrees — and they are catching up to men in earning bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering (S&E) subjects. But when you isolate by field of study, women earned only 19 percent of computer science degrees at the bachelor level in 2016, compared to 27 percent in 1997. Still, while women are less represented in undergrad CS departments, those who do pursue computer science degrees are more likely to dive more deeply these days, as the percentage of master’s degrees in computer science earned by women rose to 31 percent in 2016, up from 28 percent in 1997.

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The retention gap

Once a diploma is earned, the real work begins, and here the numbers for women in tech are perhaps even more troubling. Only 38 percent of women who majored in computer science are working in the field compared to 53 percent of men, according to data from the National Science Foundation. Similarly, only 24 percent of women with an engineering degree still work in engineering, compared to 30 percent of men. This is a consistent trend that has been dubbed a “leaky pipeline,” where it’s difficult to retain women in STEM jobs once they’ve graduated with a STEM degree.

Workplace culture gap

Women aren’t entering technology jobs at the same rate as men — and one reason can be traced back to male-dominated workplaces. A 2017 poll in the Pew Research Center report found that 50 percent of women said they had experienced gender discrimination at work, while only 19 percent of men said the same. The numbers were even higher for women with a postgraduate degree (62%), working in computer jobs (74%) or in male-dominated workplaces (78%). When asked whether their gender made It harder to succeed at work, 20 percent of women said yes and 36 percent said sexual harassment is a problem in their workplace.


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