The Gender Divide in Tech: A Leaky Pipeline
Women make up 56% of the US labor force and 51% of the US population. Meanwhile, only 20% of executives in the technology industry are women. The fact that women are often left out of high-level decision-making positions is not new. However, here are three pressing reasons why the technology industry should address this gender divide.
First, women are the leading adopters of most technology and therefore in a good position to advise in innovation, development, and marketing. According to a Deloitte study, women make 85% of purchasing decisions and account for over $4 trillion of total consumer spending in the US. This makes them a leading driver of the US economy. While hiring a woman does not imply that she is an expert in predicting other womens purchasing habits, having a woman at the executive level could provide better insight for this driving force.
Secondly, demand for high quality talent in technology is intensifying. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in this field will expand by 17% over the next few years, translating into 650,000 new jobs available with leading tech giants including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google. Girls and women are increasingly preparing themselves with the skillsets necessary to succeed in the tech industry, with help from advocacy groups like Girls Who Code, who work to inspire, educate, and equip girls for 21st century jobs.
Finally, studies show that diverse decision-making teams consistently generate better, more creative ideas. A study done by the National Center for Women and Information Technology concludes that teams with women demonstrate superior productivity and financial performance. This reflects other recent reports findings that companies with more gender diversity had higher sales revenue, more customers, greater market share and greater profits than less diverse companies.
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The good news is that many companies are starting to realize the value that women bring to a team. Intel pledged $300 million last year towards making their teams more diverse. Apple is investing $50 million in non-profit organizations that are dedicated to advancing women in science and technology through mentorship, networking, and funding opportunities.
A major challenge, however, will be to retain women once they enter the field. Of the women who are already working in technology, 27% report feeling as though they are stalled in their job and that they are likely to leave within a year, a phenomenon referred to as a leaky pipeline. So while getting women into the industry is a first step towards gender equity, creating a work environment that fosters their growth and development will be equally important.
While the world of technology continues to swell, it would serve the field immensely to invest in not only hiring women, but also ensuring their success by providing them with the same treatment and opportunities that their male counterparts are guaranteed.