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Do we need more women in tech?

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The challenge I’m facing writing this piece is to not come across as biased; being female writing about why we need more women in technology can easily look that way. However, I’ve spent some time researching and despite there being a growth in females working in the industry, there is still an obvious under-representation of women in tech. It’s fairly common to see women in law, business and medicine, yet when it comes to tech and engineering, there’s a clear shortage.

Women played a vital role in the computing sector breaking codes and calculating military logistics to improve weapon accuracy during the second world war and they continued to play a crucial part in tech through to the 1960s. Fast forward to the 1970/80s when the importance of computer tech was becoming clear and shortly after, women were phased out and replaced by men on higher paying salaries and better job titles (female data analysts and computer programmers fell under titles such as ‘secretary’ and ‘typists’).

If women had continued in these roles would the tech world be a very different place? How did we move so far away from the Ada Lovelace (the first ever recognized computer programmer) days?

Let’s fast forward to today, countless studies claim that from an academic age, fewer girls will choose to study computer science, engineering and technology over other topics. Middle schools offer plenty of options and support for girls to develop STEM skills, yet many girls still choose to opt out of STEM subjects in college. A reason for this could be that there aren’t many talked about female role models compared to males like Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. There could be a way around this; by highlighting achievements from women in tech like Grace Hopper and more recently Reshma Saujani and Susan Wojcicki and encouraging females to have more of an interest in tech and show them that there is a space for them.

Some globally recognized companies are attempting to reduce the gender gap and attract more women in various tech and even leadership roles. More training opportunities are becoming available, remote working opportunities and jobs are being created with the evolution of the internet. That being said, women still only make up approx 28% of the industry with a quitting rate twice as high as men.

It’s worth noting, according to EIB, diversity at the top of companies improves financial results: having strong female representation on a board makes firms 28% more likely to outperform. Equal representation could also increase global GDP by 3-6%; adding up to around 2-5 trillion dollars.

A recent study taken from stated that women are 22% more likely to feel imposter syndrome in a STEM role, 66% reported a lack of a clear career path and up to 50% have experienced gender discrimination during the hiring process or at work. One main issue that continues to arise is the pay gap between males and females. The latest report from Women in Tech found a pay gap of 16% in the tech industry, higher than the national average of 11.6%. On a positive note, the gap has decreased since last year from 17.3% showing that something is being done to address this matter.

If around half of the technology consumers are women, it should make sense to have around half of the software engineering, product management and marketing done by women too.

For example, take the car airbag: the original became compulsory in the 90s, but what was meant to be safe posed a dangerous threat to women and children; the original airbag was based on the average male build and weight, not tested on female or children dummies and was too powerful for most of their bodies to handle resulting in fatalities.

There are many positive reasons to have more women in tech. Breaking down stereotypes and promoting a more inclusive culture in the tech industry may encourage more younger women to choose technology-related careers, which in turn may lead to better outcomes in the industry and more innovative solutions overall.

The tech industry has a significant impact on society and the economy. It is important to have representation from all segments of society in order to create products and services that meet the needs of everyone.

I'd love to know what you think, do we need more women in tech?