Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in women’s participation in the field of technology as they make up 34.4 percent of the total workforce in GAFAM, which is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft (Source: Statista).
While females are increasingly joining the workforce in the tech industry, it is also important to note that we still have a long way to go when it comes to women’s representation in key decision-making roles in tech-based companies.
For example, women only hold 18% of Chief Technical Officer and Chief Information Officer roles in 1,000 of the largest tech companies in the U.S.
This is just a generalized picture of women’s participation in the tech industry. To understand the overall concept, we’ll have to take a look at some surprising historical facts and some recent statistics and trends.
Surprising historical facts about women in technology
Throughout the field’s history, it’s often been about the men who write algorithms or make the hardware, but what about the women’s contribution? Women’s contributions are just as crucial as men’s, and some facts may even surprise you.
- In 1842, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, began to write the first algorithm. She is also considered the first programmer.
- In the late 1800s, Williamina Fleming led a team of more than 80 women who did the computational work for cracking the secrets of the universe.
- During WW2, a unit of women coders programmed ENIAC to calculate missile trajectories.
- In the late 1940s, Grace Hopper helped develop the UNIVAC I computer. She was also one of the main developers behind COBOL.
- Annie Easley developed and implemented code that led to the development of hybrid car batteries.
- Mary Allen Wilkes helped develop the first P.C.
- Joan Ball founded and ran the St. James Computer Dating Service – the first online dating platform.
- Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler helped introduce the domain naming protocol.
- Donna Dubinsky introduced “personal digital assistants” (PDA) to the world.
Like these women, there are so many other women achievers in the technology space but are frequently left out of the history books. Lately, that’s been changing, but the progress is plodding as per the recent statistics.
Gender Gap in technology – Recent Stats
- Leading countries by women grads in STEM (Source: World Bank Data)
Undoubtedly, there has been a massive improvement when it comes to women in different male-dominated fields. Yet, when it comes to STEM subjects, things aren’t promising. Very few women opt for STEM education. Here are some leading countries by women grads in STEM.
India – 43%
UK – 38%
US – 34%
France – 32%
Germany – 27%
There are many reasons for this disparity. As per a study conducted in Europe, One of the reasons is how women are treated in their country. This factor directly correlates with how well girls perform in STEM subjects. Other factors are social biases, lack of role models, unfavorable environments in colleges, workplaces, etc.
- The employment Gap
When it comes to experiences of workplace discrimination and perceptions of fair treatment for women at work, the disparities are pretty evident.
- 1 in 5 STEM employees sees their gender as a barrier to success in their workplace. (Source: Pewresearch)
- As per data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women hold only 25% of computing roles.
- The Retention Gap
Girls lose interest in STEM subjects as they get older, and we have statistics to prove that.
- Only 38% of women who majored in computer science still work in the field. (Source: National Science Foundation).
- The reasons range from a lack of role models and support from elders to peer pressure. (Source: Microsoft)
- Lack of Representation
Women constitute a small population in the tech industry. Consider the following statistics.
- 72% of women have worked in a tech company with a pervasive “Bro Culture.” (Source: TrustRadius).
- As of 2021, just 25% of tech jobs are held by women. (Source: Built In)
- In Facebook, men occupy 75.9% of global technology jobs. (Source: Statista)
- About 72% of the female tech employees feel outnumbered in business meetings. (TrustRadius)
The main reason for such low representation is the lack of role models for women within the sector and the gender stereotype of ‘boys being better at science and math.
- Pay Gap
As per Stanford research, employers in STEM fields appear to offer higher starting salaries to male applicants.
- As per Dice, 38% of women feel unsatisfied with their current compensation.
- As per a 2020 survey by Dice, women tech employees in the U.S. made 2.5% less money than men.
So what’s behind the pay gap? As per Stanford research, employers appear to offer higher starting salaries to applicants, which leads to low self-confidence.
- The Founder Gap
Although female-founded companies are among the biggest entrepreneurial success stories, very few women are launching and leading companies.
- Only 37% of tech startups have at least one on the board of directors. (Silicon Valley Bank)
- Less than 2.5% of women-owned startups get venture capital funding. (TrustRadius)
- The leadership gap
Women hold just 19% of all leadership positions in technology. In 2020, just 37% of tech startups had at least one woman on the board of directors. ( Source: Finances Online).
Some of the factors that can be held accountable for this leadership gap are – female leaders report frequently facing sexism as they try to grow their companies, gender stereotypes, lack of encouragement, women doubting their own abilities, etc.
- Lack of Work-Life Balance
In 2021, women in technology experienced more burnout than men due to the additional responsibilities they had to bear. (Source: TrustRadius)
The COVID-19 pandemic compounded the stress as women had to take on additional responsibilities while working from home. Female employees were also twice as likely as male employees to lose their job because of this reason (Source: CIO)
Benefits of women in technology – Top Statistics
- In 2017, companies with at least eight female managers made about 34% of their revenue from innovative products and services. (Source: Zippia Research).
- In 2020, Fortune 500 companies witnessed a 66% increase in ROI if they had at least three women leaders.
- 73% of teams that are gender diverse are better at decision making. (Source: Finances Online)
Women are indeed underrepresented in tech today, but their contribution to technology has been significant. Therefore, we need to encourage more women’s participation in the industry. But, diversity and inclusion in the technology field cannot be part of a one-time campaign; instead, we will have to do continuous work in this direction to ensure to clear the way for women to move up in the tech industry.