In today’s day and age, we’d like to think that women and men are equal, especially in the workforce. While there is some distinction across different industries and fields, both genders should be able to hold equal stance, right? Unfortunately, this is not true for the present day technology industry, where women only make up only 28% of the IT workforce, compared to the 72% that are men.
This is particularly interesting, considering that a higher percentage of women enter into universities than men, however only 18% of those are graduate with IT degrees. It’s not that the interest is not there, 95% of young women say that they like and are interested in technology, but only 9% of those say they definitely want to pursue an technology career. So what can we do to encourage the female youth (who have interest in the technology sector) to pursue a career in IT?
What Makes a Career in IT so Attractive?
In the somewhat still turbulent economy we have, the IT force can offer security that many other industries and positions cannot. The unemployment rate in IT is a low 2.9%, compared to the general rate of 6.7%. Additionally, 79% of women who are currently in positions in the industry say they feel a sense of accomplishment, versus the 74% of men that do. The field currently has nothing but opportunities, with over 500,000 position openings and salaries that compete at twice the amount of the national salary, a whopping $76,000 versus $35,000.
The industry, contrary to popular belief, offers a wide variety of sub-fields and positions, including: analyst coder, consultant, CIO, software support, web-design, solution provider, developer, customer service, content manager, programer, etc.
Why We Need to Encourage Women to Enter into/Stay in the IT Industry?
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be almost 1.5 million computer related jobs available by 2020; furthermore, they also estimate based off current circumstance, that our country will only be able to fill 30% of these positions. Around 56% of women in tech leave their companies half way through careers, making their attrition rate twice that of men. Reducing this rate by only 25% would add more than 200,000 workers back into the industry. Entering into a career in the IT industry,or maintaining one to reach high level positions and management, would also allow women to make a difference in leadership.
At a low 22%, the United States is also falling behind most of the countries in the world in terms of women in leadership roles. 53% of women who are currently in IT, make up entry level positions, 45% of managers are women, 30% are directors, 27% VP’s, 24% SVP’s and 19% of C Suite roles are women. IT is the perfect way for women to get their foot into the door and change this and the balance of the industry as well.
How Can We Encourage Women in IT Careers & Leadership Roles for Women?
We need to encourage women to not only work in the IT field, but to lead it as well. So what can those in tech do to help?
- Offer classes to train and develop tech skills
- Encourage one another by keeping track of internal and external accomplishments
- Initiate company recognition and incentive programs
- Encourage the next generation by equipping members of the technology industry to go into schools and communities to educate young women about
- Promote from within
Establishing strong, hardworking women leaders will increase not only the number of women in technology, but will also encourage those in the field to continue their careers and thus climb the ladder into higher leadership roles. In turn, this will successively start the steps to ameliorate the U.S.’s deficiency of women in leadership roles as well. Overall it is a win win.
It’s great being a part of Baptie’s Women’s Leadership Council and CompTIA’s Advancing Women In Technology to bring more of these issues and solutions to light.
What are some of your ideas to encourage those young women thinking about a career in tech? What is your encouragement towards those women already in the field who are thinking of leaving it? Comment below and let us know!
A special thanks to Nancy Hammervik, whom Heather had the pleasure of meeting at Baptie’s Channel Focus Women Leadership Council event in April, as well as CompTIA for educating us on Women in Technology.
Photo source: Tech Cocktail