Just one or two short generations or ago, career options for women were mostly confined to nursing, secretarial or teaching professions. While these can be rewarding professions, they were virtually the only ones offered to the average young woman. Today, unlike previous generations, women’s career options are absolutely limitless. Workforces have evolved and companies are incorporating much more diversity into the workplace. Opportunities, specifically in technology, are rapidly growing-but where are all the women?
According to Inc., “While women make up 59% of the total workforce, they are averaging only 30% of the workforce across major tech companies.That 30% includes both tech and non-tech jobs, like marketing and HR. When it comes to representation of women in tech jobs at tech companies, they can't seem to break even 20 percent: women hold only 17 percent of the tech jobs at Google, 15 percent at Facebook and 10 percent at Twitter.”
CNBC reports that he U. S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. To reach gender parity by 2020, women must fill half of these positions, or 700,000 computing jobs. Anecdotal data tells us that an average of 30 percent of those students with exposure to computer science will continue in the field. This means that 4.6 million adolescent girls will require some form of exposure to computer science education to realize gender parity in 2020.
There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to remedy the lack of women in the tech industry. So what will motivate more young women to take the technology career path?
A recent awareness campaign was launched by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the technology industry. They commissioned research based on survey and focus groups of young women, aged 10 to 17, and found several reasons why girls may be discouraged about a technology career:
- Young boys are more motivated to use technology devices at an earlier age (5 years or younger) than girls and are more likely to explore technology further out of curiosity.
- Additionally, as girls reach high school, their interest in technology typically wanes.
- Less than half of girls who have taken technology courses are confident their skills are right for the jo
- Girls are not made aware of the technology opportunities available to them.
- Female role models in the technology industry are lacking.
There isn’t a quick or easy fix to getting more women into the technology industry. CompTIA found that the biggest motivator for most girls is their parents. Parents can offer support and encouragement to their daughters to consider the tech industry. They can assure them that they can do it, that they are smart enough, that perhaps their talents could make a great contribution to the world working in technology, and then guide them and keep them motivated to action. Additionally, teachers, role models and school councilors are among those that can also help to motivate young women by making them aware of the opportunities available to them.
CompTIA has also launched a campaign to motivate young women to join the tech industry, reviving an iconic image, formerly known as Rosie the Riveter, now known as Rosie the IT worker, which can be found at their Make Tech Her Story website. The site offers a video of young women talking about the technology industry and some of their responses may take you by surprise. Check out the website⏤and be sure to share it with your daughters⏤perhaps a future with more women in technology begins with an open conversation.