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Women account for less than 20% of tech positions worldwide—yet women account for more than half of the world population! You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that these numbers don’t add up. Girls in Tech exists to empower and enable women within technology fields, helping them to accelerate their careers through education and a worldwide support network.

First, a bit of background on this issue…

Where are all the women in tech?

Indeed, where are all the women in tech? Research has shown that the lack of women in tech can be traced to three main “buckets” of issues:

Gender Stereotypes: Ever hear the term ‘brogrammer?’ No you’re not watching an episode of the Silicon Valley show on HBO. The brogrammer culture is real. Imagine: a bunch of dudes in a room, spouting off sexist jokes just as quickly as they type code. It’s a boy’s club. And this isn’t exactly friendly to women, is it?

Now, let’s take this a step further, away from the developer scenario. When I say “scientist” what image do you conjure in your head? If it’s a man with glasses in a white lab coat, you’re not alone. Gender stereotypes affect us all.

Lack of Talent Pool: Unfortunately, the stereotypes and brogrammer culture can lead to a vicious cycle of lack of talent. Many women start their college careers, deeply interested in computer science and other technology—only to become discouraged right off the bat. This leads them to swiftly change their major to a more female-friendly course or seek other industries that are more welcoming. When a woman’s ambitions don’t match with reality (read: being the lone chick in a room full of men) it’s a hard road to trudge forward on. This also affects other minority groups.

This leads to perceived lack of talent. Even for organizations who are readily willing— and eager —to hire female tech talent. We hear a lot of this: a job posted, but few or no females apply.

In-Group Favoritism: Take your notion of bias against someone and switch it around to bias in favor of someone.

For example, managers may subconsciously favor employees who have like personalities. Employees they like and relate to may be first in line to get a coveted promotion versus an equally hard-working, talented employee with a different personality. The same goes for groups of male investors who tend to favor seemingly like-minded male entrepreneurs. This “in-group favoritism” runs rampant everywhere, not just the tech sector. It’s just particularly noticeable in tech, where women are so often struggling to keep pace with their male counterparts.

Theories aside, why does tech need women?

Companies with a broad, diverse employee base outperform others. The truth lies in the numbers. Businesses with women on the executive team tend to receive higher valuations at first and last funding. And companies with women on the board of directors see a 42% higher return on sales than companies with low female representation on the board.


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Here’s what Girls in Tech is doing about it

Girls in Tech seeks to combat these barriers to women in tech by providing “ammo” for women in the form of education and a vast, global support network. Girls in Tech’s proprietary programming includes boot camp workshops on the pillars of entrepreneurship—innovation, business model, go-to-market planning and more. Girls in Tech also hosts hackathons, speaker panels and workshops around the globe and online. Rather than being discouraged, women realize they are not only NOT the only woman in the room, they are meant to be celebrated. And that’s where the real magic happens, when women gain the confidence to follow their dreams no matter what road they may lead them on.

 

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2 comments on"The numbers behind women in tech"

  1. You make a number of good points. As a technical manager I ran a large team of pre-sales engineers and consultants. Women represented about 10% of that group. As you mention, for a woman, working with a team mostly comprised of men is probably not fun. That is why they bonded with the women in the sales team where women are much better represented. What I saw was that the women in my team moved to sales much earlier in their career than men and I haven’t been able to figure out if that was because they lost interest in technical matters sooner than their male counterparts or because they felt that sales was a friendlier environment. However, that was clearly making it difficult for women to reach more senior technical positions which require years of experience.

    I also agree that managers may be biased and may look for people like themselves for their teams. I was looking for passionate persons who loved technology. I had lots of trouble finding women who loved technology. Most of my female candidates viewed technology as a tool and didn’t care much. Engineering was a job for them, not a passion and that frustrated me. I didn’t want to hire candidates that were just looking for a paycheck, specially early in their career. That also happens among male candidates (and I automatically reject them too), but I had less trouble finding passionate people amongst males. However, no matter how biased the manager, a great technical resource, no matter his/her gender cannot be ignored. If you are good, people will notice very quickly.

    Finally, I would like to discuss stereotypes. Programmers are often described as socially awkward and never as fun, attractive persons. This stereotyping was not initiated by the “nerds”, on the contrary. It was jocks AND women who created that image because they could not conceive that people could spend so much time working on technical projects instead of doing something “more fun”. Therefore, women (as a group) cannot complain about a stereotype that they helped create and that we, men in tech, have had to endure for decades. From my point a view, if a woman is interested intact, she probably understands that the stereotypes are not true and she shouldn’t see that as a serious obstacle.

    • Interesting points, Huibert! I’m sure there are a variety of issues impacting women in Tech and you’ve hit on a bunch of them. But hopefully the numbers are increasing overall, that gender diversity is certainly healthy…

      Ron

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