For those considering a career in tech, the timing couldn’t be more perfect, especially for women passionate about STEM. If the digital revolution is to fundamentally change how people and businesses work together, then we need more hands at the wheel and diverse perspectives to get the job done right - the future of IT and business depends on it.
The growing pace and prevalence of digital transformation, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, has triggered a need for technologists to help organizations keep up with the latest workplace trends and new digital tools. A global report from MuleSoft that surveyed 1,050 business leaders found that organizations spent an average of $11.7 million on IT teams in 2022, and 78% of managers say that they’re planning to increase their investments and headcount toward IT hiring in 2023.
Undoubtedly, the tech sector is on a robust growing track, creating new job opportunities in areas such as AI, data analytics and robotics. This increasing demand for highly specialized tech professionals could be the perfect springboard to get more women on board with the digital revolution - but for them to seize the moment, we must all help women overcome the challenges and biases in the STEM industry. It’s now or never.
Yes, the tech sector is exploding - we need software engineers, data scientists and machine learning engineers more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that women can simply grab the opportunity with zero effort. There are multiple barriers in place that prevent many women from even considering a career in tech, let alone pursing a STEM degree, not to mention all the gaping inequalities in the workplace. If it were that easy, then we would have a more diverse STEM workforce - instead, women make up only 19.9% of science and engineering professionals on a global scale.
While it’s hardly news that women continue to be underrepresented in the tech sector, evidently, something is going wrong somewhere. With digital transformation accelerating, we cannot afford for the digital gap to get wider and have young women miss out on opportunities in one of the fastest growing sectors. So, what are the challenges that women face in tech and what can we do to help? One thing is certain, we need to eradicate gender inequality, together.
One thing is certain, we need to eradicate gender inequality, together."
One of the biggest reasons for the lack of women in STEM fields are biased gender norms and stereotypes. It’s a fact - girls are less likely to play with robots and building blocks growing up, generally responding to societal expectations of pursuing careers in liberal arts or healthcare, rather than STEM. However, the problem isn’t women feeling more passionate about non-STEM subjects, but rather when the world makes them feel like an imposter or less adept than men when learning STEM subjects. It’s when their teacher or parent perpetuate biases about what types of jobs or fields of study are best suited for a woman.
From classroom textbooks to curricula, stereotypes are embedded in education and at home, influencing the choices of what young girls study in school and as a result, their careers and employment opportunities later in life. As reported by the United Nations, young girls outnumber young boys in tertiary education, but only a minority 35% become students in STEM - that’s systematic gender bias in play.
In 2023, Fortune reported that women run more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies for the first time in history. While it’s encouraging to see more women in leadership positions, particularly in tech companies, there is still a serious shortage of role models for women in the STEM field which can lead to feelings of isolation and discouragement.
In fact, a report carried out by WeAreTechWomen, found that 33% women feel that “a lack of senior support/role models” is a big barrier for progression in their career while 35% of women said that one of their largest challenges was “a lack of confidence”. With tech being a male dominated sector, these findings are not surprising, but reiterate the importance of having more female leaders at tech companies as figures to aspire to.
Countless studies have found that men are more likely to be promoted than women, even with similar qualifications and work performance, highlighting another consequence of gender bias in the workplace. This situation is even more present in tech companies where women are often not taken seriously and find it more difficult to advance in their careers.
But perhaps even more shocking are the gender pay gaps between Black and Hispanic women and white men in the United States, with the former earning $33,000 less than their white male counterparts and $20,000 a year less than the average for STEM jobs.
The vast shortage of women in the global technology workforce is not only a societal problem, but a marketplace problem, given the overwhelming demand for skilled tech professionals. Our society not only needs technology experts to shape the future of business but also our collective future - and women have a lot to bring to the table.
Female STEM enthusiasts can bring a diverse range of skills, perspectives, and experiences to the tech industry, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions. They also bring a different approach to problem solving and communication, which can foster a better work environment and improve team dynamics. Furthermore, having a gender-diverse workforce is essential for creating products and services that meet the needs of a diverse customer base. In short, there is no doubt that women play a crucial role in shaping the future of technology and making it more accessible and inclusive for everyone.
If women strike while the iron is hot and tap the full power of digital technologies, new opportunities will open up for them. However, it is our responsibility as a society to help facilitate that process and work together to remove the barriers that women in tech face - from entering the industry to eliminating gender biases at the workplace. Whether we are parents, teachers, colleagues or business leaders, our job is very simple: being advocates for gender equality. We understand the problem, let’s resolve it together and bring women to the forefront of innovation. That moment is now.
Let’s educate ourselves to create a more inclusive and fairer world where women can thrive.