Why women and minorities are underrepresented in the tech industry

There are several factors that contribute to smaller numbers of women and minorities in the tech industry around the world. While many attribute the lack of diversity to a pipeline problem and a lack of applicant diversity, the LOW RETENTION of women and minorities tells a story about the inhospitable tech culture and its lack of appeal to talented applicants.

The growth of the tech industry has led to a demand for highly skilled workers with specific skills, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It is perceived that the amount of work available in this sector is in short supply, and only applicants with the correct skills and education stand a chance of being employed.

A recent study suggested that in the USA, approximately 9% of graduates from the country’s top computer science programs are from minority groups, while only 5% of workers in the top tech firms come from the same group! More women than men are now awarded bachelor degrees in the US, with only 15% of computer science graduates being women.

Statistics also suggest that GIRLS OUTPERFORM BOYS IN STEM SUBJECTS IN SCHOOL, with a survey of 1.4 million GitHub users showing that women’s coding skills exceed men’s.

The question then is, at what point do women choose to NOT utilise those talents in the tech industry?

Tech continues to be perceived as ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy’, which seemingly discourages women from entering the industry in the first place. The idea that computers and technology are for boys is SOCIALLY ENGRAINED, and while the use of technology across genders increases, there has been a stark decline in the number of women entering the technology industry since the 1980’s.

The women who do make the move into the tech industry are then faced with the social and cultural norm of a MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY, where 56% of women leave their organisations at midlevel points in their careers!

80% of women working in the USA, in STEM fields, reported to love their work, while 32% say they feel stalled in their career and would consider quitting in the next year. The loss can be attributed to the inhospitable work culture which is not inclusive to women and minorities, a lack of advancement in their profession and difficult work/life balance and parental policies.

Lea Lange, who co-founded Juniqe, an online market place, said, “It is inherent in our nature to choose environments in which we feel like we can identify with other people in the group. Thus, environments which were strongly male-dominated (e.g. tech) have taken longer for women to become accustomed to the idea of becoming a part of, and vice versa.”

So, what do tech companies need to do to create a culture that is appealing to women and minorities?

If tech companies don’t embrace diversity and inclusion in a REAL AND PRACTICAL WAY, then they create a homogenous group which is hard to change once the company starts to grow! This lack of diversity and inclusion limits innovation and creates a narrow perspective of customers by its lack of representation.

emberin’s 10,000 Women in Tech APAC Virtual Conference is purposed to achieve gender balance within the tech industry, and help women utilise their feminine style to advance further in their tech careers rather than forcefully adapting to a strongly male-dominated work culture.

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