Often on the front page of tech company websites, we see plenty of smiling, waving women in tech. Campaigns and social media accounts lead us to believe that the tech industry has managed to pull off the perfect picture of diversity. Women are in every role and every position they want to be in, with no gender bias holding them back.
Is the truth?
Unfortunately, no it is not the truth.
There is still a lot of gender inequality, bias, and discrimination within the tech industry for women. There is not an equal picture between men and women in tech, as much as we might like to believe that there would be by this point.
In this blog, we are going to go into more detail about how and why women in tech are not experiencing true equality yet. Backed up with current statistics, we are exploring the true current situation for women in the tech industry. We are also going to discuss how we might see a way out of this in the future.
Let’s start right at the beginning and look at the inequality that exists in schools.
Inequality in Education
We can see issues of gender inequality between men and women before they even enter the workforce. Particularly so when it comes to STEM subjects and career choices.
PWC’s research with over 2,000 A-Level and university students was able to clearly demonstrate that the gender gap in tech and STEM begins at the school level and carries on into every stage of girls’ and women’s lives. Their research noted that:
- Only 3% of girls said a career in technology is their first choice for the future
- Only 16% of girls have had a career in technology suggested to them by an adult, compared to a higher 33% of male students
- Only 27% of female students surveyed stated they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of male students. Only 3% stated it is their first choice
As we can see from these statistics, the inequality we later see in the tech industry doesn’t always start in adulthood. It isn’t always a case of exclusive recruitment practices and biased offices (while this, of course, does play a part in the problem), the inequality can start as early as teenagehood for many people. Girls are not given the same encouragement or the same opportunities to enter the field of tech. As such, fewer girls choose tech subjects for a-levels and university courses. As a result, fewer women work in tech roles.
It is all related and it is all important.
The Employment Gap
After education, we can move on to look at the inequality that exists in employment.
We can see from further statistics that around only 19% of the tech workforce are women. This figure decreases again for black and Hispanic women, with employment figures at just 3% and for Asian women at only 5%. This means that a very large percentage of the employment figures in the tech industry belong to white people and men.
You might see a lot of women-led, BAME-led campaigns for tech companies, but looking at the statistics behind those campaigns isn’t such a healthy picture.
Management and Leadership Statistics
In addition to women being less employed in the tech industry, women in tech are also promoted less. We see far fewer women in leadership and management positions than we do men in the tech sector.
77% of tech director roles in U.K. tech companies are filled by men, according to a Tech Nation report. This leaves a tiny 23% of women in these positions.
Many factors contribute to these statistics, including those we have discussed already in this blog. Women feature in the tech industry less, even from the education level, but there are also the issues of biased interview panels, people with gender discriminatory ideas in high positions of power, and exclusionary promotion requirements.
In short, women across the world are actively kept out of these top positions.
Women’s Experiences in Tech
To add the icing on the cake, once women enter tech jobs, they still are not having a great time. To this day, too many women are experiencing gender discrimination and bias while they are at work in the tech industry.
In fact, a Pew Research Center report demonstrated that as many as 50% of women said they had experienced gender discrimination at work when they worked in tech.
A Women in Technology Survey 2019 additionally revealed that 60% of women believe there is a gender pay gap in the technology industry, with men earning more than women, while only 8% believe it is equal.
So, not only do women struggle to obtain tech jobs but when they do, it is often a bad environment for them in terms of treatment and pay.
That sums the picture up pretty well.
What Can We Do About it?
As much as it is important to recognise the current situation of things, it does not do to dwell and accept these things as if they cannot change. There is a lot that we can do about gender inequality in the tech industry, including but not limited to:
Speak up about our own experiences
If we have experienced gender bias at work or we have seen it happen, it is important to speak up about it. Report it to all of the appropriate channels. Also, make sure the wider general public knows what is going on in certain companies. When discrimination can’t hide, it has a much better chance of changing.
Encourage young girls to have an interest in tech
In our own lives and through school programmes, we can encourage young girls to go for tech subjects and courses if they want to. Allowing things to even out at the school level will help for every next level that comes along.
Discuss pay and promotions openly
It is no longer illegal to discuss your pay at work and no one should make you think that it is. If you feel comfortable doing so, start conversations with your co-workers about pay and promotion schemes. Getting everything out in the open will help expose any inequality currently happening.
If you are a man, being an ally is one of the best things you can do to help gender inequality at work. Call out when you see women being stereotyped, spoken over, and excluded. Challenge other men on their sexist jokes and inappropriate behaviour. When you are in a position of power at work, do what you can to make all decisions equal. Stand up for women whenever you can.
Only work with diverse, equal, inclusive employers
If we all were to work only with people who believe in and promote gender equality, the ones who don’t would quickly change their ideas. If it doesn’t pay to be unequal, we would find inequality changing and adapting. Making sure that you only take your business to people who deserve it really helps.
How Aspiring to Include Can Help
At Aspiring to Include, we can help you connect with employers who are diverse and inclusive. You can check out our inclusive job board as well as our jobs for women in tech, and our directory of employers to find such opportunities.
We also have plenty of resources to help educate others on pay inequality, maternity discrimination, and other important issues facing women in employment. We believe that the more we all learn about these issues, the better we become at dealing with them. So feel free to take a look at these and share them as you like.
Let’s all open our eyes to gender inequality and spread the word about how we can help.