Women in IT: Why the Numbers Are Low, and Anticipated Changes

With the growing demand for cyber security specialists, as well as software developers and other fields in IT, one would expect that there is an equal proportion of men and women in technology jobs. In fact, the numbers are so out of proportion it is almost illogical. Women account for less than 11% of information security jobs, and only 20% of software developer jobs. Per a recent study by Harvard Business Review, more than 50 percent of women now working in science, engineering and technology jobs are expected to depart the industry altogether in the upcoming years because of hostile work environments. When you look at the IT field in general, women make up only 30% of the entire workforce. This is staggeringly low when you consider women  make up 59 percent of the US labor force and almost 51 percent of the US population, according to the US Census Bureau.

Why do women sometimes feel like outsiders in Tech?

All industries benefit from diversity.  And it usually begins with company culture. In a study by The Athena Factor Project, it was found that 84% of women in technical roles said they do not have adequate mentors or feedback to guide them, while the National Science Foundation found 46% believed gender bias influenced performance evaluations.

Another perception hindering women from entering the IT field is that they believe they have double standards to overcome:  men are expected to voice their opinions and stand up for what they believe, women are rewarded for being quiet and modest. And when they do speak up, they may be penalized for being overly aggressive. That is why finding the right corporate culture for women in IT is of the utmost importance to us at CultureFit.

Change starts with education, and a shift might already be underway.

Good news is on the horizon, however. More and more women are looking beyond the present environment, and focusing their education on this lucrative field. The federal government and industry leaders acknowledge that more should be done to bring women into science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM.  STEM is a government and business leadership initiative that fosters females, at an early educational age through higher education, to the categories that will provide women with a greater opportunity to compete within a male dominated business category. By starting this effort in the elementary years there’s a greater chance that the gender barriers can be broken.

There’s strong evidence to support the theory as enrollment numbers are increasing heavily at many of the nation’s top universities. Federal data shows, more than half of the engineering bachelor’s degrees at MIT and Dartmouth University went to women in 2015.. At Carnegie Mellon University, women accounted for 48% of the first-year computer science students, setting a school record.

Below are three  IT areas in high demand for female professionals:

1. Healthcare Technology Manager

Here you have the best of both worlds: the booming healthcare industry coupled with the booming Technology sector! This is still a very uncommon industry, so competition is small and demand for the qualified individual is high. Healthcare Technology Managers create databases and manage patients’ records. Average salary is $83,000 per year. You will need a B.S. degree in computer programming or software development.

2. Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and Information Systems Managers devise, coordinate, implement and analyze computer-related projects. There may be crossover between assignments in both software and hardware, web design and database development, as well as creating a company’s IT strategies. Requires a B.S degree in related field, and the median salary is $80,000 per year.

3. Software Developer

Software developers create and help devise computer programs. Their specific duties include analyzing users’ needs, designing applications, writing code, and improving current software versions. Once again, a bachelor’s degree in Software Development is required. The median salary is just over $75,000 per year.

The opportunity for a rewarding career for women in the IT industry is expanding every day!  For more information, or if you are an IT professional looking to advance your career,  talk to one of our IT Staffing Professionals at CultureFit.

CultureFit is a full-service Technology Staffing and recruitment firm for corporate cultures and IT talent that value organizational fit, employee satisfaction, and an extremely high level of technical IT skills.