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Tackling the Lack of Women in Technology

| by Shane Hastie Follow 30 Followers on Jun 06, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

There have been a number of articles written recently that explore the under-representation of women in technology fields and highlight some of the groups working to overcome the lack and help the technology industry become more relevant and attractive to women. 

Helen Twose wrote an article titled "Women in tech: IT industry behind pace in addressing gender balance" in which she examines the gender imbalance in the technology industry. Talking about the Silicon Valley IT giants she says

But the tech giants also have one other thing in common: a dearth of female employees.

Folding to years of pressure, the big names of Silicon Valley have begun releasing diversity figures that reveal men outnumber women two to one.

Strip back the numbers to just the technical roles and the number of women in the workforce comes in at between 10 per cent at Twitter and 20 per cent at Pinterest.

By contrast, 57 per cent of all professional roles in the United States are held by women

She goes on to cite the statistics for women studying IT subjects at university:

In the United States, 37 per cent of computer graduates in 1985 were women. By 2012 that had fallen to 18 per cent.

She feels that one of the reasons for the dearth of women in IT is the perception of the industry:

This reflects research put out by Google that showed women who were familiar with the tech industry associated it with words like "future", "fun", "challenging", "interesting" and "money".

On the flipside, women who didn't know much about the industry used words like "boring", "difficult", "nerd" and "maths".

She examines some of the initiatives in New Zealand which are focused on exposing girls at school to the IT field and quotes Frances Valintine of The Mind Lab who says this exposure needs to start with parents - and mothers in particular.  She says 80 per cent of teenagers' subject choices are made by mums, who are basing career choices on their own experience of school and the workforce.

The article highlights successful women in the IT field in New Zealand and provides links to organisations focused on improving the profile of the IT field and showing the opportunities available for women to become involved.  These include:

In a similar vein a recent alphr article focused on the groups making the tech industry a better place for women.  

The article states that

In the UK, only 13% of those employed as programmers or software developers are women, according to the 2015 Women in IT Scorecard published by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the Tech Partnership. Additionally, less than 10% of IT directors are women.

It states that part of the reason is that young girls are generally not encouraged to pursue careers in tech and they're not provided with the resources that could help them do so.

It suggests that one way to overcome the imbalance may be to ensure that more girls are taught to code.  It goes on to discuss a number of initiatives which are aimed at achieving exactly this outcome, including:

 

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