By Abby Perkins
If you’re a woman in a tech company today, chances are you’re in the minority.
The tech sector is overwhelmingly male-dominated. Just 30 percent of all tech jobs are held by women, and numbers are even more dismal at the nation’s leading firms. At Facebook, Apple, Oracle, Google, and Microsoft, only 25 percent of tech employees are women, and 97 percent of start-ups in Silicon Valley are founded by men.
The good news? In recent years, many tech companies committed to improving gender diversity in technology.
Companies who commit to diversity
Despite alarming statistics, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future. Many companies are working hard to bring gender diversity to technology. In just one year, for example, Etsy grew its number of women engingeers by 500 percent. The company did it in part by offering more women scholarships to its “Hacker School,” where participants can learn about engineering.
It doesn’t just start with tech companies, either. In a similar show of commitment, Harvey Mudd College in Southern California took steps toward gender diversity by creating more introductory computer science courses and hosting conferences for women in technology. And it works – 40 percent of Harvey Mudd’s computer science majors are women, far more than at any other co-ed school.
The road to balance
The issue of gender inequality is complicated, and it can be hard to know where to start.
For many businesses, increasing the number of women in technology begins with recruiting. Many companies send representatives to conferences like the Grace Hopper Celebration, which honors women in computing. Some use female recruiters, hoping to better appeal to other women. Others bank on recruiting women who are interested in technology before they graduate from college.
However, companies that are most successful at retaining female employees recognize that essential changes must take place within the office. Offices need to be a place where everyone feels safe and confident, and where both male and female employees feel that they are pushed to succeed and grow.
The role of education
Workplace equality can’t be fixed without improved education. The White House’s initiative for STEM education aims to create ways for both girls and boys to shine in science and technology. By starting with education, we’ll ensure that gender diversity in technology isn’t an issue for the women of the future the same way it is for women today.
Abby Perkins is Editor in Chief at Talent Tribune, a Software Providers blog dedicated to jobs, workplace culture, and business solutions.