Women in Tech: Are We Making Any Progress?
While it’s true that gender-based challenges remain in the tech workspace, it is also true that the tech sector provides many opportunities for women. From development to security, tech writing to marketing, project management to the C-suite, the tech workspace remains attractive because it offers relatively high salaries, good benefits, flexible work arrangements, and the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge technological innovation.
We all know that engaging women in tech is a critical part of the transformation of our industry and our everyday lives. While challenges remain, we’re still working to roll back the industry’s pervasive issues with sexism, and the United Nations International Women’s day gives us all an opportunity to recognize the ways that the tech industry is key to social, economic and technological progress, and the ways that women are key to that success.
UN International Women’s Day
The theme for International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023 (IWD 2023) is, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” We all know that including women and other underrepresented groups in technology leads to more inventive solutions and increases the likelihood of breakthroughs that support gender equality and address the needs of women. So how do we get there?
Challenges Remain for Women in Tech
The first thing is to take an honest look at the situation. Despite improvements, women in technology still face serious challenges. Discrimination and unconscious bias in the industry mean women encounter unequal treatment, lower salaries, and fewer career opportunities than their male counterparts. Underrepresentation makes it hard for women to find mentors, role models, and coworkers, and in a demanding sector like tech, work-life balance is especially tough for women due to family responsibilities. Regrettably, workplace harassment, including hostile environments, bullying, sexual harassment, and other abuse, persists in several sectors.
As much as most of us love our jobs in tech, the statistics show we have much work to do to make the global tech workplace a more welcoming place for women.
As far as the general situation for women in STEM, the World Bank reports that:
- Only 30% of technology workers worldwide are women.
- Only 17% of technology workers in the EU are women.
The gender gap in STEM education is especially concerning. Women are earning only:
- Sixteen percent (16%) of Bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences.
- Twenty-one percent (21%) of Bachelor’s degrees in engineering and engineering technology.
And retention of women employees remains a problem. The WomenTech Network found that:
- Two percent (2%) of 2022 tech layoffs were women.
- Twenty-two percent (22%) of STEM women are considering quitting, compared to 12% of women in the general working population.
- Two women directors quit their organizations for every woman promoted to director.
Female tech professionals cited a lack of promotion chances (52%) and role models (48%) as their biggest challenges and 40% of women said this was one of their top challenges.
So as members of the tech community, how can we work together to make our industry a more welcoming place for women?
Improvement Is Happening
Despite the challenges, tech is still the driving edge of the future — and tech provides creative, flexible workplaces that are a catalyst for creation, which means it’s a great place for women to work, contribute, and make a living. So, let’s take a look at several positive developments for gender equality in the tech industry.
Where the Industry Goes Next
While we can’t speak for the entire industry, here at Synopsys we’re actively promoting gender equality through partnering with ally organizations, pushing strategic initiatives, organizing and attending events, and engaging in social media campaigns to encourage women in semiconductor and STEM industries worldwide. We promote gender equality by recruiting, valuing, and recognizing women in tech for their skills and competence.
We’re seeing increased representation every year. More women are entering the tech field, and many companies are actively promoting gender diversity and offering increasing leadership chances for women. Forbes recently featured eight women who are leading Cloud firms, including Melanie Perkins of Canva, Karen Peacock of Intercom, and Bernadette Nixon of Algolia.
More women in executive positions, and more women getting investment funding means more open doors for women in the industry. Mentoring and networking is an increasingly important, and many companies offer women opportunities to join tech mentorship and networking organizations.
While there is room for improvement on pay equity, a number of tech companies are addressing the gender pay gap. Salesforce, the first tech business to audit its compensation, paid $3 million to close the gender pay gap, and other companies are following suit.
And as a response to the work-life balance issues of working in a cutting-edge industry like IT, most organizations now offer flexible work arrangements, generous parental leave, and diversity and inclusion training to promote gender equality.
There is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in computing, but many positive trends are helping.
Here are some of the organizations we recommend to support women in tech:
- The Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) Women’s Leadership Council, harnesses the leadership of those women who have risen to the top ranks of the semiconductor industry to provide inspiration and sponsorship for the next generation of female leaders.
- TechWomen, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, empowers, connects, and supports the next generation of women STEM leaders from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East by giving them the chance to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities. TechWomen mentorship and exchange improves participants’ professional skills, strengthens key professional networks, and inspires girls to pursue STEM careers by exposing them to female role models.
- Women Unlimited: Companies that work with Women Unlimited can profit from continued gender parity. Women Unlimited helps business clients execute success factors like CEO diversity commitment, manager participation at all levels, company culture improvements, and high-potential female talent selection.
- Grace Hopper Conference: Established in 1994 to honor Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, this annual event promotes women’s computing research and professional objectives. Sending employees to the celebration encourages them to network, learn, and celebrate women in technology. This conference is ideal for mentorship since thousands of undergraduates attend.
While the state of gender equality in tech continues to pose challenges, women like Megan McIntyre, Senior Manager of software manufacturing at Synopsys are optimistic. “Despite recent cuts, I believe the tech industry is going to continue growing… In addition to needing more developers, the industry needs to improve efficiency. Organizational silos lead to multiple teams developing the same functionality… This is where I see women making a huge impact on the tech industry. Because women typically are better at communicating and collaborating with others, they tend to be more willing to understand the needs of other teams.”
Across the industry, organizations are committing to building diverse teams and talent pipelines by encouraging women’s empowerment, and providing equal opportunities for people of all genders at all levels of decision-making. This is good for business, good for the industry, and good for all of us.