It’s no secret the tech field is dominated by men. Even though women now make up roughly 46 percent of the workforce, they only hold 24 percent of computer science jobs and about 11 percent of executive-level jobs in Silicon Valley. Of the women who do make it into Silicon Valley, they make 61 percent less than their male counterparts. That evens out to an average of over $16,000 less per year.

There is no direct reason for the gender discrepancy; however, speculation largely lends itself to the rise of the “male tech geniuses” like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs whose overpowering success overshadowed females in the field. Additionally, women are viewed as too emotional and face the problem of pregnancy bias that men do not.

When a man fails or makes a mistake at work, they are allowed the opportunity to explain themselves and fix their mistake. The same can not be said for women. When high-powered women make a mistake, they are met with a much higher level of scrutiny. Their failings are seen as a reason they shouldn’t lead rather than a simple misstep.

How do women actually stack up?

Although women are not as prevalent as men in the tech industry, that’s not due to lack of skill. On the contrary, female-powered companies have historically performed 3 times better and generated 12 percent higher revenue than those led by men.

Furthermore, in a GitHub study, code written by women was actually accepted 4 percent more often than code written by men. The catch? The coder’s genders were not disclosed prior to the acceptance of their code. Women in the study were in fact, better coders, but only when the judges were unaware they were women.

What is the effect on women?

The turnover rate is more than twice as high for women as it is for men. 41 percent of Women in tech are leaving their jobs as opposed to 17 percent of men. Of those women, 56 percent leave in the middle of their careers; 24 percent of whom leave the tech field completely, 20 percent leave the workforce altogether.

Why? Most often it’s because 30 percent of women over 35 still hold junior level positions while they see their male colleagues moving up around them. Rather than stay in unfulfilling jobs they will never advance in, women choose to leave in search of fulfillment elsewhere.

What are companies doing for women in tech?

Diversity initiatives

Many companies are dedicating time and money to work on diversity initiatives. Though only the companies who are truly diverse tend to be the ones who report, they’ve proven organizations with a more diverse workforce perform better. But that’s not all. High-diversity businesses also have more satisfied workers and a leg up on the competition.

Pinterest has one of the most diverse executive teams at the moment; however that number is only about 8 percent. Google also has higher numbers than the national average with a 30 percent female workforce but that number is still much lower than men. Tech companies are putting in the effort to catch up, but still, have a long way to go in diversifying their teams.

Reducing pregnancy bias

Pregnancy, maternity leave, and motherhood seem to be the largest biases against females in the workforce, especially in the tech industry. The United States is one of the only countries that does not require paid parental leave for businesses. As a result, many women are forced to choose between their careers and their children and leave the workforce. Some companies though, are making a point of actively combatting that.

For example, Netflix provides unlimited paid parental leave for a year following childbirth or adoption. Tech giants Google and YouTube give new mothers 18 weeks of paid leave while also give families $500 to invest in the stock market for their children.

Women still only account for about a quarter of the workforce in the tech field and are often overlooked. However, they have proven to be just as successful as, if not more successful than, their male counterparts. Though the tech industry has a long way to go before bridging the gender gap, they are slowly adapting practices to get there.

 

A big thanks to Amanda Peterson, to writing and submitting this piece to us.

Posted by Miley Dowling

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