We know tech has a gender problem. Fewer women are starting IT careers due to gender bias, and those who do make it through the recruiting landmines often leave the field. This problem has been a hot topic of conversation in the media and in the industry, and much has been said about how to fix the problem. But has all the talk actually led to any improvements?
The focus on the lack of women in IT and the issues they face in the workplace has led to some exciting advancements — but more work needs to be done.
Take a look at how the tech field is evolving, and what still needs improvement to bring gender parity to tech:
The pay gap is closing. Women still make less money than men in nearly every industry, but tech is making strides toward equal pay. A survey conducted by HealthITJobs.com found that in health IT, women made 99 percent of what men made in 2015. On average, men took home an annual salary of $88,173.22, while women earned $86,988.19.
This is a huge jump from last year when women in health IT made only 82 percent of what men did. This increase indicates that employers value the skills of women in tech and are more aware of inequalities within their organization.
But women still undervalue their skills. Although employers are placing more value on the skills of women in tech, women themselves still doubt their abilities. In fact, the salary report report found a gap between the salary men and women think they deserve. On average, men in health IT think they should be paid $107,694.81 each year, compared with $104,071,59 among women.
This trend isn’t unique to health IT — it’s an overall trend in STEM careers. A study published in March 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America found that when asked to predict their performance on a math evaluation, men tended to overestimate their scores, while women were more likely to underestimate theirs.
The pay gap may be closing, but more work needs to be done when it comes to the perception of skills. We need to investigate why women in tech downplay their skills and the impact it’s having in the workplace.
Workplace cultures are transforming. Women have been notoriously underrepresented in tech and can be made to feel uncomfortable in office environments dominated by men. But some tech companies are trying to change that.
In 2015, the Anita Borg Institute analyzed 35 tech companies for their progress in creating workplaces where women can thrive. The institute scored each company based on the representation of women at all levels within a company, and yearly recruitment and promotion trends of women in tech. Among tech companies analyzed, 13 exceeded the industry mean in enabling and growing women in tech.
In addition, initiatives like TechWomen are working to get more women in leadership positions. An Initiative of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program aims to support and develop leaders in STEM from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East, through mentorship.
But women are still underrepresented. Although a few tech companies are leading the charge in advancing women in tech and creating more inclusive cultures, women are still underrepresented at nearly every level in the workplace, a report released by McKinsey & Co. reveals.
The study surveyed close to 30,000 professionals from 118 U.S. companies in finance, healthcare, media, retail, and technology. The study found that the rate women enter leadership is so slow it will take 25 years to reach gender equality at the senior VP level, and more than 100 years at the C-suite level.
In addition, the report found that women face barriers to advancement at every step of their career. Women make up about 45 percent of professionals entering the workforce, but that number drops to 37 percent at the senior management level. At the C-suite level, women make up just 17 percent of professionals.
Women are still facing challenges advancing their careers and obtaining leadership positions in tech, and it’s causing women to leave and discouraging others from joining the field.
Although we’re making progress toward gender equality in tech, there’s still a lot of work to be done. To continue bringing women into tech and creating a diverse workforce, we need to understand the problems women in tech are still facing every day.
Have you noticed any improvements to tech’s gender problems? What’s still the biggest problem? Comment below.