The Thriving Tech World Of Women?
Women make up 49% of the workforce in the UK and yet a study by CEB, the membership group for business executives, revealed that the amount of women working in IT companies is now at only 18 percent. This figure has not improved in decades and in fact has dropped consistently since the mid 80’s.
At one time programming was seen as a job for women and in 1984, 37% of IT degrees were awarded to women. By 2006 this had dropped to 20% and now is around 17/18%. Why is that?
Well some would speculate that it correlates to the introduction into the mainstream of personal computers. For those too young to remember – the first PC’s were things like the ZX Spectrum and the Atari. Very basic computers – normally plugged into your ‘tele’ which could be used to play some pretty basic games and that was about it.
The marketing gurus realized that the market for such was teenage boys and that’s who they marketed to….heavily. Is it a co-incidence that this seems to be the time that the decline in women entering IT degrees and careers began to fall. Perhaps not. Also – some research as identified that by first year of secondary school, maths and IT have been identified with students of both sexes, as well as parents and teachers as subjects that boys do better in. Self fulfilling prophecy? It seems so.
As 37% of the IT workforce used to be women, there is clearly no biological reason why women can’t ‘do’ IT. But there is a lot of subconscious bias. And the fact that more boys are bought computers than girls and therefore that they have more access to and more time with more advanced technology, means that the girls doing IT feel on the back foot when starting IT qualifications probably doesn’t help.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way, and some of the worlds top IT companies are trying to change things.
Cisco has it’s Cisco Empowered Women’s Network? It is a Cisco blog page where women bloggers from around the world can freely post any interesting stuff and empower all other women out there. This is one great initiative of Cisco.
Twitter aims to increase 16% of its tech staff and 35% of its overall staff to be females this year.
Facebook exposed that 17% of its tech people and 33% of its general workforce are all females.
Google’s latest January 2016 figures show that 19% of their tech employees and 31% of their overall team were women.
Microsoft has 16.9% women tech staff and 26.8% female employees in general.
Apple’s overall team consists of 32% women and that 37% of the employees they hired this year are women.
All these companies have set themselves targets to do better. Tech companies with more women in senior positions and more women in general, are more profitable so it is not just the right thing to do but the sensible business decision to make.
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