My readers know I rarely run guest posts. This topic is important, so I decided to run it. Thanks to Gloria Martinez of Womenled.org
The National Center for Women and Information Technology notes that, despite 60% of professional occupations in the workforce being held by women, females only account for 25% of job holders in the budding field of information technology. But why? A 2016 study commissioned by Deloitte Global outlines a number of contributing factors, including:
The recruiting process
A 2014 study in the UK found that only one in 20 information technology job applicants were women. Further perpetuating the gender gap for computing positions is a very real, if unintentional, bias toward men.
Pay and promotions
The Deloitte study noted that female computer programmers make, on average, 79 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same position. Though somewhat narrower, there is still a gap between men and women in IT systems management jobs.
For a number of reasons, women simply don’t seem to be satisfied in information technology careers. As many as 45% of women in computer-based jobs feel stalled in their careers; 37% believe the stagnation is directly related to gender.
Poor retaining strategies
Women in information technology careers are twice as likely as their male co-workers to leave a job within the first year. Aside from pay issues, women cite a sexist culture, passive hostility toward women, and an overabundance of workplace politics. Many women additionally feel put off by marathon coding sessions, which may be more suited for men, as women are naturally team players; coding requires intense focus and offers very little in the way of creative collaboration.
Being a male-dominated field, many IT corporations don’t offer childcare. Coupled with implied expectations against having children, women may subconsciously forgo tech-oriented careers.
Change starts at the top
Only hiring managers and corporate executives have the power to diversify their workroom floors. There are a number of ways that businesses can make themselves more attractive to highly-qualified female candidates.
In order to get more women in a “bro-oriented” environment, businesses must begin by reassessing their job post descriptions. Gendered wording, asserts gender equality website HireMoreWomenInTech.com, has a huge influence on the number of female job applicants for any given position. Terms such as “dominant,” “strong,” and “determined” are decidedly masculine, and can be replaced with more neutral terms, such as “committed,” “proficient,” and “productive.”
Happy employees are long-term employees. One of the most important things business executives can do to find and retain quality information technology professionals of both sexes is to treat their employees with respect. Women should be regarded with equality and given the same opportunities as men; this includes offering access to high-importance projects, and recognizing their achievements accordingly.
According to Allison Sawyer of the Wall Street Journal, there is no excuse for not hiring women. The goal for any company is to appeal to a near-equal ratio of men to women. Businesses who see an overwhelming majority of male applicants should reevaluate their recruitment strategies and determine what aspects about the company are unappealing to women.
Invest in the future
Finally, businesses today can make the information technology field more equitable to women by taking the initiative to invest in local, regional, and national women’s tech communities. This can be achieved by partnering with a strong female recruiter with insight on how to reach out to women’s groups, and participating in or sponsoring events that attract more female college graduates.
Despite grim statistics for women in information technology, there is good news. More than a quarter of IT managerial roles are currently held by women, and the gender gap seems to be closing among the C-suite crowd. IT job parity is on the horizon, and more and more tech-focused employers are beginning to see the value of women in the workplace. If you’re a woman with her eye on an IT career, don’t be discouraged by the statistics. Get your name out to the IT crowd by marketing yourself online. Make your own website and network in person; and you’ll be able to set yourself apart from the men and women in the field.
Author: Gloria Martinez