Gender Diversity in Tech

One of great benefits of my job is that I am heavily involved in the recruitment process. I have participated in a few careers fair locally and we try really hard at attracting talented graduates in the IT industry (particularly Computer Science and Computer Engineering students). We actually make a conscious decision on trying to make diverse hiring decisions to really complement and augment our current application development team. But believe it or not, even with the conscious effort of trying to bring in more women into our department, our female to male ratio is still pretty low.

If you look at the statistics of tech companies, we are still doing poorly when it comes to gender diversity in IT (the most diverse was 33% female and the least diverse was 10% female in tech). According to the Economist the degrees that give the best financial returns on their investment is an education in the areas of engineering or computer science.   When it comes to a career in the IT industry, the opportunities will continue to grow but why aren’t there more women in tech? Are girls simply not interested in computers or are they not aware of the opportunities that are available in technology?

Does diversity really make a difference? You bet it does. Diversity matters.

  • Diversity is a key driver of innovation1
  • A diverse workforce attracts top talent1
  • Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers2
  • Companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity3
  • Multicultural networks promote creativity4

Innovation, top talent, performance, high earnings, and creativity. These are all something that we can use more of, no? So diversity can make a difference in the workforce. In fact, it contributes to a better workplace in my opinion when you have a diverse environment.

Less than 20% of Computer Science bachelor degrees are awarded to females. I’d really to see that number bump up closer to 50% at where it should be. We are still a very long way from that. Why are girls not interested in technology as a career? Is it because it appears too hard? Is a career in the IT field not attractive to young women? Or are they not exposed to computers and technology at an early enough age to influence them to consider a job in IT by the time they pick a major in university or college? What are the barriers that prevent girls from loving and embracing technology and that they can believe that they are smart enough to code and solve problems? Should we be educating the parents to influence their daughters into a career in tech? (Certainly my dad influenced my decision to major in Computer Science.) Do we need the teachers in schools to be teaching a curriculum on basic programming skills like how they teach math and science?

I’m on a journey of finding out the answers and finding a way to get closer to that 50% mark. If you are interested in joining me on this journey to make a difference please reach out to me! I’d love to hear your opinions, ideas, and general comments about this issue. If you also have resources or a network that is  already involved in some capacity to make this difference, please contact me (leave me a comment or contact me via social media). I would gladly love to hear from you.

 


Notes:

  1. Forbes Insight’s Study on Global Diversity and Inclusion http://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/StudyPDFs/Innovation_Through_Diversity.pdf
  2. Study by Lu Hong and Scott E. Page from Michigan Business School, University of Michigan http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~spage/pnas.pdf
  3. McKinsey Insights http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/is_there_a_payoff_from_top-team_diversity
  4. Harvard Business School http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6645.html
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