Why are so few women choosing to work in technology?

Having been in the technology/recruiting business for four decades, what is glaringly apparent is how few women seem to be involved in this burgeoning occupation.  Of all the respondents to our IT ads, according to our metrics, less than 20% are women.

So, the question is why the disparate? What is happening to half our population, when it comes to science and technology and why are so few women choosing to work in these fields?

It seems that there is a labor resource that is going untapped but why?  Are there cultural attitudes that are preventing women from embracing science and technology? Are there the same biases in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)  fields  as there has traditionally been in older industries discouraging women from participation? If this is true, where does it begin? Does it begin in primary school, where girls, generally outperform boys in math and science as most statistics suggests? Or, does it begin in high school where girls, surprisingly fall behind boys in math and science subjects? Does it begin in college, where relatively few women study science and technology? This would appear counterintuitive if technology is where the jobs are.  The predictions are that the technology job market will increase by 17% by the year 2018, the fastest growth in professional occupations.  It is imperative that that we solve this conundrum if the USA is to compete in the global marketplace, providing equal opportunities for men and women in the sciences and technology.  Here are several sights that discuss this issue.

“Women working in STEM fields are 45% more likely than men to leave within the year, and its not for lack of enthusiasm”. –Fast Company

 “Why Are Women Leaving Science, Engineering, And Tech Jobs?”

Recent research from the Center for Talent Innovation shows U.S. women working in science, engineering, and tech fields are 45% more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within the year.

“Women entering STEM fields have a much shorter runway for career takeoff than women entering other industries,” according to the report. “To begin with, they’re starting later because of the time it took to get a Ph.D. That intensifies the ticking of their biological clock, which in turn pressures them to step up the pace of their research progress.”

Some companies are working to overcome such disparities. At Pfizer, for example, pilot program Leadership Investment for Tomorrow targets high-potential women and minorities at the middle-manager level by providing assessments, education opportunities, and mentoring. This program focuses specifically on managers at the mid-level, as this is the time they’re most likely considering leaving the company.” Read the entire article by Jane Porter | Fast Company

“Despite a scattering of high-profile female tech executives like Sheryl Sandberg and Ginni Rometty, women still hold only about 20% of all computer science jobs. –Fortune”

“Why are there still so few women in science and tech?”

Engineering and tech are the last bastions of gender imbalance in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be that way, says one female engineer.

When Karen Purcell decided to major in electrical engineering, even male friends whom she’d tutored through math classes were surprised. “The typical reaction from almost everybody was, ‘Engineering? Why?’ or ‘Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?’” she recalls. Even now, as president of PK Electrical, an award-winning electrical design, engineering, and consulting firm based in Reno, Purcell runs into the occasional client on a construction site who “automatically looks to a male team member for answers, even if he’s fresh out of school,” she says. “I get called ‘honey’ and ‘dear’ a lot, too.”

Most women in engineering and tech can probably identify — not that there are many of them. Despite a scattering of high-profile female tech executives like Sheryl Sandberg  and Ginni Rometty, women still hold only about 20% of all computer science jobs. A tiny 7% of CIOs are female, and one in seven engineers, despite the fact that women hold 60% of all bachelor’s degrees and make up 48% of the workforce overall.  Read the entire article by Anne Fisher | Fortune

Research out of Yale proves that STEM professors are more likely to hire male candidates than female candidates and to offer males higher salaries than women even when their qualifications are exactly the same.

“Long Story Short: Why Don’t More Women Pursue STEM Careers?”

Women are being pulled out of STEM careers, which are those in Science Technology Engineering and Math. Studies show that implicent biases remain entrenched within the stem community.

Research out of Yale proves that STEM professors are more likely to hire male candidates than female candidates and to offer males higher salaries than women even when their qualifications are exactly the same.

We need to change the story a little bit and think of lack of encouragement for women as discouragement for women pursuing STEM careers. Women shouldn’t have to work harder for the same type of recognition or rewards that their male colleagues receive. Listen to the entire video from American Institute For Research

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