There is a need to increase the number of women in technology.
As I’ve progressed in my career, I continue to see less and less women represented at various levels in IT career paths. This is interesting because there is a shortage of skilled labor in IT.
As IT continues to affect every aspect of current culture, it requires a growing population of workers and specialists. However, while the IT field is growing quickly, it continues to have a shortage of eligible workers. This is due to the lack a sufficient people available in the IT career path talent pool. These talent gaps are further increased by the underrepresentation of women and racial minorities IT career paths.
Let’s take a look at some data regarding the representation of women in technology.
Women in the IT workforce
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2018, women made up just 25.6% of workers in Computer and Mathematical occupations. IT is a broad field and the Computer and Mathematical occupation was used as the umbrella for all IT fields. Other IT specialty areas had similarly low numbers regarding the representation of women in IT career paths.
- For the Computer Programming specialty, women made up 21% of the workforce.
- In the Computer System Analyst specialty, women made up 38% of the workforce.
- In the Software Development specialty, women made up 19% of the workforce.
- For the Information Security Analyst field, women made up 25% of the workforce.
These numbers paint a disappointing picture of the underrepresentation of women in various specialties within IT. The numbers also show that these are untapped pools of talent that can potentially be utilized to address the talent gap at all career levels within the IT field.
So, why is there so much underrepresentation of women in technology? Let us review 3 main reasons based on research.
Reasons for the underrepresentation of women in IT career paths.
1. Underrepresentation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies
The first step to an IT career for women in technology begins with their participation STEM studies. However, research studies show that females decide to pursue IT career paths less than males. Researchers also note that females typically feel that they cannot perform well in technology, so they choose not to pursue IT career paths.
The technology field requires self-confidence in order to maintain a persistent attitude to complete the associated degree. However, research shows that females who start in technology fields experience a drop in self-confidence by their second year in college. This ultimately leads them to switching majors to a non-STEM fields.
The natural effect of women not choosing to pursue or complete STEM degrees is that the number of women in the IT job pool is insufficient. When employers look to fill their open IT positions, they can only consider qualified individuals in the applicant pool. This means that additional work needs to be done to include more women in that pool.
Bottom line: In order to get more women in technology, we have to increase the number of women that pursue STEM degrees.
2. Career Advancement Barriers for Women in the IT workforce
Women that succeed in joining the IT workforce find other challenges in career advancement. The results of the 2019 study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company showed that women continue to face more challenges to attaining leadership positions.
The biggest challenge is with the first step up to becoming a manager (‘broken rung’). This “broken rung” reduces the population of women available for promotion to executive roles.
Other research noted that male sponsorship was important to the leadership development of women leaders. However, without that sponsorship in the early stages of their career, women may never get past the broken rung to more executive positions.
The effect of the lack of career advancement of women in technology is the lack of gender and racial diversity in IT leadership roles. When women are not adequately represented in leadership roles, it decreases the chances of advancing more women.
Bottom line: In order to have more women in technology leadership roles, we have to remove career advancement barriers.
3. High Attrition Rates in the IT workforce
When individuals do not gain job satisfaction through career advancement, one option is to quit. So, another reason for the lack of representation of women at in IT career paths is the rate at which women leave the IT workforce.
Recent studies show that women are leaving the IT workforce twice as much as men. This suggests an issue with how well women think IT career paths are suited to their lives.
Research also shows that women are leaving IT career paths because of few promotional opportunities. This is because the male dominated nature of the field does not typically allow for women to get promoted.
Another reason for the attrition is related to the nature of the IT work environment. The IT work environment does not allow enough flexibility for work-life balance which most women require. In simple terms, when women see no career progress or work-life balance in IT career paths, they move to another career path.
The effect of women leaving the IT workforce is the continued underrepresentation of women in technology leadership roles. Organizations can only promote women into leadership roles if well-qualified women are available in the pipeline.
If women leave IT career paths, there are fewer women to select for promotion. And the cycle of underrepresentation continues.
Bottom line: In order to have more women in technology, we have to find ways to keep them in the IT career path.
There’s Room for YOU in IT
Now, that we know the problems. What can be done to address them? This is where YOU come in. We need more women to start careers in IT. The reason is simple, there is room for more women in technology. Not just that, there are many IT career path jobs that are available for you to start researching now.
Here’s a great way to start with your research. Below is a list of 10 IT career path jobs that are excellent for women. Many of them offer great salaries and job flexibility.
IT Career Path List for Women in Technology
- Software Developer/Engineer (Programming)
- Website Developer
- Database Administrator
- IT Support/Helpdesk
- IT Project Manager
- Product Manager
- Information Security /Cybersecurity Analyst
- Information Technology Auditor
- Data Scientist
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator
You can view this post for detailed information on each job 10 IT Career Path Jobs for Women in Technology. The post includes links to places where you can start taking courses today.
Are you still unsure about starting your IT career? Think about this. The IT career path has many benefits that you should consider. Here is a list of 5 key benefits of working in technology.
5 Benefits of Working in IT Career Paths
1. Great salaries
The IT career path has a lot of great job opportunities with high salaries. If you’re looking for financial freedom, having a high salary job is one way to start. Check out this post of high salary IT jobs in IT.
2. Remote work
The IT career path has a lot of jobs that can be performed remotely. All you need is a computer and internet connection in most cases. What’s not to love? Check out this post on remote job opportunities in IT.
3. Work in multiple industries
All industries have a need for IT, so you can work in a variety of industries. I have worked with clients in Finance, Telecommunications, Food and Beverage, and many others. So, you can find a job in almost any industry that interests you and that is great.
4. Opportunities for growth
I know that there are growth challenges for women in technology. However, the great thing is that companies now recognize the issue and are proactively trying to make corrections. This is a great time to start a career in IT because more companies are being intentional about promoting women
5. Freelance opportunities
If you like to work on your own terms, then there is no better career than IT. The IT career path has a lot of opportunities to work as a freelancer. For example, website development allows you to work from anywhere for a variety of clients. These jobs can also pay very well and put you on a path to financial freedom.
Are you ready to join the women in technology? Do you think an IT career path would be a great fit for you? What are some of your hesitations? Let me know below.
You can also check out these other posts related to IT career path jobs.
- 10 IT Career Paths for Women in Technology
- IT Audit Career and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) Certification
- Project Management Career and the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification
- 7 Remote Job Opportunities in Information Technology
- 5 High Salary Information Technology Jobs – No Technical Degree
- Learn to Code Online for FREE – 15 Best Places to Start Today
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- Hewlett, S.A., Sherbin, L., with Dieudonné, F., Fargnoli, C., & Fredman, C. (2014). Athena Factor 2.0: Accelerating female talent in science, engineering, & technology. New York: Center for Talent Innovation.
- White, J. L., & Massiha, G. H. (2016). The retention of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: A framework for persistence. International Journal Of Evaluation And Research In Education, 5(1), 1-8.