UN SDG #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure UN SDG #9
UN SDG #5 Gender Equality UN SDG #5

challenge

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Closing the Gender Gap in Technology

It is hardly news that women—particularly women of color—are chronically underrepresented in the US tech sector. Perhaps more alarming is that the trend is headed in the wrong direction. The percentage of computing roles women hold has largely declined in the United States over the past 25 years.

challenge

7 shares

Closing the Gender Gap in Technology

It is hardly news that women—particularly women of color—are chronically underrepresented in the US tech sector. Perhaps more alarming is that the trend is headed in the wrong direction. The percentage of computing roles women hold has largely declined in the United States over the past 25 years.
16M
people impacted
$63.8B
potential funding
the problem
Nature and Context

Women will not reach parity with men in writing published computer science research in this century if current trends hold (New York Times). Current philanthropic and corporate social responsibility efforts to lessen the gender gap and diversify the field of technology are falling short. This must change. Tech industry action today will create opportunities for women to lead innovation tomorrow (Mckinsey).

Symptoms and Causes

The Field is Currently Predominantly Male and White

The lack of diversity in the US tech sector is not a recent phenomenon; it has been a significant and consistent challenge for tech companies for many years. From tech start-ups to Fortune 500 industry anchors, tech companies of all sizes recognize that their workforce continues to draw mainly from a small segment of the talent pool—predominantly white and Asian men from elite educational institutions (Mckinsey).

Lack of Female Inclusion during Primary and Secondary Education

Generally within schools there is an existing theme that girls lean more towards the creative and artistic subjects and boys towards maths and science. This has led to a perception that STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are masculine fields and as a result girls are not studying, or being encouraged to study, the subjects required for them to have a career in tech (Forward Role).

Hostile Work Environments Promote High Turnover Rates

The shortage of females entering the industry then has a knock on effect in the workplace. Many women who do work within technology companies have reported that they feel isolated, outnumbered and intimidated in a working environment that is so heavily male dominated. The Harvard Business Review reported that 50% of women working in STEM fields will leave due to hostile working environments (Forward Role).

Persistent Reluctance to Collaborate with Women

Men are growing less likely to collaborate with female researchers — a particularly worrying trend in a field where women have long felt unwelcome and because studies have shown that diverse teams can produce better research (NYT).

the impact
Negative Effects
  • The lack of female representation in general only magnifies the situation that is even more grave for underrepresented women of color: black, Latina, and Native American women.

  • Lack of diverse representation in the work place makes women feel unsafe due to sexual harassment and discrimination.

  • There is a great divide in the US that is considered the 'Haves' and 'Have-nots'. This underrepresentation of women and people of color in the most promising field of employment for our future will only widen that divide, fuller polarizing our country.

  • There is less diverse product creation that is less in tune with the broad perspectives and needs of users when there is not representation behind the scenes to ensure inclusive, holistic approaches.

Economic Impact

A lack of gender diversity carries with it a major opportunity cost, both for individual tech companies and the entire sector. Diverse teams, including those with greater gender diversity, are on average more creative, innovative, and, ultimately, are associated with greater profitability. This strong positive correlation between higher levels of employee diversity and stronger financial performance has been demonstrated consistently across sectors and geographies, and tech is no different. Plus, tech companies’ recent public struggles on gender-related issues have demonstrated there are real, immediate costs that result from a lack of inclusion and diversity—lost stock value, lower market share, HR costs, and public relations costs, among others (Mckinsey).

Despite the growing number of voices pushing for gender equality across the United States, and many tech companies stating that diversity is a priority, we are not yet seeing concrete gains in the tech industry. If tech companies can successfully create pathways for women and girls—particularly the most marginalized women and girls of color, who face the greatest number of barriers—to pursue careers in technology, the industry will benefit from a much broader talent pool and realize new economic opportunities (Mckinsey).

Success Metrics
  • Increase the number of women employed in the tech sector, specifically women of color.

  • Implement nationwide primary education that includes coding and general tech skills.

who benefits from solving this problem
Organization Types
  • Tech Companies

  • Human Resource Advisors

  • Schools and Universities

  • STEM Programs

Stakeholders
  • Men in Tech

  • Women and Girls

financial insights
Current Funding

Women Who Tech is a nonprofit organization with the vision of transforming the world and inspiring change by bringing together women breaking new ground in technology.

Pipeline™ provides a robust analytical platform designed for organizations who understand good missions underscore a good business line. Through direct integration with your cloud-based human capital management system, Pipeline™ analyzes data based on a series of triggered events and recommendations that support improved performance for the organization and individual.

Techtonica offers six months of free, full-time tech training with living stipends and laptops to Bay Area women and non-binary adults with low incomes, then place graduates into jobs with sponsor companies. Most of our participants are people of color, and we place 100% with hiring partners. All of our graduates still work in tech and most are still working with the companies we placed them with.

Gender diverse teams perform better, yet achieving gender parity remains a challenge. We’re here to help. We find and connect you to qualified women to show them how they belong at your company. PowerToFly’s mission is to fast-track gender diversity through upskilling and connecting women to high-visibility roles.

Potential Solution Funding

National Science Foundation

ideas
Ideas Description
  • Renewed dedication to STEM education starting in elementary school

  • Tech Companies must take the lead in not only diversifying their workforce, but in promoting how and why they are doing so. Additionally, they need to ensure they are creating safe and equitable work environments.

  • Apps can be created to harness the insights of male career trajectories and opportunities to showcase new pathways for women and support their journey.

Advancing Women in Product offers skills-based workshops in all of the AWIP chapters globally, as well as a comprehensive Ambassadors program to introduce high-achieving PMs to executive mentors who can open the door to their next leadership opportunity. Since its founding, AWIP has experienced 2,000 percent growth, to a membership of more than 12,000.

Ideas Value Proposition
Ideas Sustainability
attributions
Data Sources

Mckinsey & Company, 'Closing the Tech Gender Gap Through Philanthropy and Corporate Responsibility,' - https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/closing-the-tech-gender-gap-through-philanthropy-and-corporate-social-responsibility

Forward Role, 'Why is there Such a Large Gender Gap in Tech?' - https://www.forwardrole.com/blog/2018/05/why-is-there-such-a-large-gender-gap-in-tech

The New York Times, 'The Gender Gap in Computer Science Research Won't Close for 100 Years,' -https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/technology/gender-gap-tech-computer-science.html

Women Who Tech - https://womenwhotech.com/

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