Assessing the state of women in tech does present a kind of half-full – or more precisely quarter-full – glass perspective. There is definitely still a marked gap in terms of representation in the field and even pay. However, there are also signs of movement in the right direction. So while we do mind the gap, we should also look at what works to narrow it down. (To learn about one woman who’s made it in tech, check out How I Got Here: 12 Questions With Web Entrepreneur Angie Chang.)
1. The quarter-full glass on the job level
According to the women in tech statistics assembled by Honeypot, the U.S. is ranked second worldwide for female opportunity in tech. But even in this country, women make up less than a quarter (24.61%) of the U.S. tech sector while they make up 46.76% of the workforce across all industries.
That figure is better than the representation women achieved in HackerRank’s survey of over 14,000 professional software developers, which included fewer than 2,000 women. As the notes on the Kaggle data set pointed out, that amounted to just a 16.5% to 83.4% (female-to-male) ratio. But around a quarter is likelier in light of the numbers of engineers in actual companies updated regularly on a spreadsheet in Tracy Chou’s Women in Tech list. Though the numbers vary widely, the average representation for women software engineers at the companies listed appears to fit that percentage figure that comes close to a quarter.
Further corroboration comes from the Wall Street Journal, which cites figures from AnitaB.org, which surveyed over 628,000 people in technology and found women at 24% in 2018, of them a figure that represents 1.09% growth over the previous year.
2. The quarter-full glass on the education level
About a quarter of STEM graduates are female, according to Honeypot, 24.24% to be precise. HackerRank emphasizes the positive here, saying, “young women today are 33 percent more likely to study computer science compared with women born before 1983.” It also says that they are on the right track in studying “the exact same languages that are most in-demand for roles across front-end, back-end, and full-stack, according to our 2018 Developer Skills Report.” So there is progress, and it does make sense to have about the same percentage for graduates as one finds in the workforce. But then there’s the next fact.
3. Women still come up short on the pay level
Women who have positions in tech are not achieving pay parity. According to the Honeypot figures, men in tech in the U.S. are earning $98,265, while women are earning an average of $86,608, indicating a pay gap of 11.86%.
4. Where the glass drops below the quarter rate: in more advanced positions
Even the optimistically worded HackerRank admits “there’s one fact that’s hard to ignore: Women are by far more likely to be in junior positions than men.” They found that one-fifth of women remain in junior positions even when they’re over 35, which translates into their being “3.5x more likely to be in junior positions than men.”
5. Women tend to leave 10 years in
While women may hold close to a quarter of tech positions, the percentage drops for higher level jobs in tech. “Leave rates for women in science, engineering, and technology (SET) peak about 10 years into their careers,” according to Catalyst. This drop-off is very significant, not just for the lack of representation of women at high levels, but because it translates into fewer women in tech positions that would have the power to hire.
6. The glass is only 1/10 full at the hiring manager level
That is borne out by the additional insight on HackerRank’s Kaggle comments. There are far fewer female hiring managers than male ones – just 10.3% among those surveyed. That doesn’t bode well for new entrants into the field connecting with mentors and sponsors to stay on track to advance their own tech careers and avoid the drop-off.
7. Women CIOs are still scarce but have increased
Though there is still only a one in five chance that you’d find a woman in the position of CIO at a Fortune 500 company, that still marks some improvement over the 16% share for women in 2017, according to Boardroom Insiders and represents the best levels it has seen in its tracking over the last ten years.
8. How women CIOs get there
Education appears to be a major factor in women’s advance to the CIO position. Boardroom Insiders found that 40% have MBAs, which is up from 34% in 2017. A somewhat larger number – 51% – have at least one advanced degree. The graduate program route is more popular than starting at the bottom. Just 11% said that’s the way they got to their CIO position, a significant drop from the 19% in that category last year.
9. Progress on the entrepreneur level
In 2018, over 40% of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. were women, according to the 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report. Sarah Wefald, technical product manager at Laserfiche takes this as a positive sign because “having women tech leaders can have an effect on the entire workforce.” She notes that her own company “was founded by a woman in the 1980s,” when it was considered remarkable, and now women make up nearly half of Laserfiche’s employees.
10. It pays to support female founders
Women at the helm doesn’t only translate into better opportunities for women, but for investors as well. First Round reports a 63% better return for “companies with a female founder” than for those “with all-male founding teams.” As Monica Eaton-Cardone comments, “Thus, betting on diversity is a smart investment. Despite that, we still have incredible disparity in terms of who gets funded, and I believe that women being underrepresented in decision-making roles is a major reason why.” This “creates a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: Women can’t get access to VC funding, and thus, have a hard time refuting the line of thought that prevents them from getting access.” (Crypto is helping to create gender equality in business. Learn more in How Crypto Can Help Women Gain More Equal Footing in Business Leadership.)
While the glass is currently about a quarter full overall, we have to note where there is movement and what has yet to be done. It is important to open more possibilities for women to not only enter the field of tech but to stay on, advance and lead. That assures not just a more equitable future, but a more profitable one, as well.