Inequality should have no place in the world, and yet, diversity is a hot-button issue in America for a reason, with many segments of the population feeling a drastic imbalance in the workplace. Specifically in the technology sector, despite it being one of the country’s most exciting industries, there is a stark gender disparity. Let’s take a step back and look at what’s been going on, how women can seize the present moment, and why the future for women in technology is brighter than ever.
At CorSource, women make up 50% of our workforce. Unfortunately, we’re an outlier. Even at a peak in the mid 1980’s, women comprised 37% of those in computer science. But ever since, that rate has been dropping steadily. Today, only 26% of all tech jobs are filled by women. What caused this abrupt change of course?
The growth of women enrolled in computer science was on pace with female enrollment in law school and med school, but something happened. The personal computer became prominent and society began to view computing as a male interest. Such a societal designation changed the narrative and, ultimately, the industry as we know it today. However, while societal norms were the leading cause of an increased gender disparity, that also means society can course-correct and reverse this decades-old trend. Thankfully, we’re seeing this positive effort now more than ever.
Right now, 18% of those pursuing computer science degrees are female, trending below the current average in the field. It actually mirrors the makeup of CIOs in Fortune 500 companies, 17% of which are women, as well as the makeup of tech giants like Google and Facebook, both comprised of less than 18% women. In short, these numbers are too severe to be swept under the rug any longer.
Laws like the widespread ban on salary history are created to combat inequality. Further, females in technology are rising up, understanding that change doesn’t come by just waiting for it. Women in tech are taking action, especially in the Portland area, by coming together to network, provide mentorship, and share resources in various ways:
Any of the above organizations can provide the extra support necessary for women in technology to really take a stand in the industry. It is predicted that 1.4 million computer science jobs will be available by 2020, but there will only be enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of them. This presents a tremendous opportunity that, as long as women continue to challenge the status quo, paints a brighter future for female job seekers in the industry.
For women in IT, it’s necessary to start asking the difficult questions of management. Ask, “Why not me?” when there’s an opening for a promotion or raises are being given. Set professional goals for the next month, six months, one year, and five years, and don’t forget to continuously reassess them. Continue to learn new skills and be confident, even when talking to a room full of men. Today’s tech women are strong, smart, and above all, an example for young girls who can one day work in a balanced and fair IT industry.
While we’re proud of the gender equality within CorSource, we won’t rest until we see that same equality throughout the technology sector. With STEM majors in colleges up nearly 50% in just six years, there is a huge opportunity for women in tech to take a leap forward and seize the momentum. It won’t happen overnight, but the time to finally start breaking those barriers has arrived.