The technology industry is lagging behind many other sectors when it comes to the proportion of women taking up entry level positions.
This is according to US research by McKinsey in their new report: Women in the Workplace
The study surveyed 132 companies which collectively employ more than 4.6m people. It shows that while 75% of CEOs in corporate America are saying gender equality is a top ten priority – and in the wake of the high-profile Gamergate controversy – tech is still woefully behind.
Women entering the tech industry are far outnumbered by men and they lose ground on every step of the ladder
The McKinsey report separates out key industries in the US and shows the proportion of women working at each stage of the corporate ladder.
For the tech industry (including electronics, hardware, software and IT) just 36% of entry level positions are accounted for by women. This proportion goes down to 31% at manager level and an even lower 19% at the C-Suite level.
Tech is certainly lagging behind other sectors…
For instance, the asset management and institutional investors industry sees 50:50 parity for men and women at entry level (but just 14% women in the C-Suite). Professional and information services sees a majority of women at entry level (59%) but just 22% at C-Suite.
The report also allows for comparison of the issue with corporate America as a whole. On average, 46% of all people going into corporate jobs in the US are women but this shrinks down to just 19% at the C-Suite level. For women of colour, the percentage is 17% at entry level and 3% at the C-Suite.
Gender inequality research in tech and digital is growing
McKinsey’s research builds on wider research into gender disparities across tech and digital.
In February, Econsultancy released UK-centric career and salary data for those working across the marketing, digital, design and advertising industries. The research highlighted the inequality in average pay between men and women across the digital sector – from specialists to general marketers.
In 2016, the average female digital specialist earns £38,176 – around £8,000 less than her male peers. For women in general digital marketing roles, the average salary is £37,477 – again around £8,000 less than the £45,750 earned by the average man doing the same work.
Gender inequality as contributor to the digital skills gap
The latest McKinsey report and that by Econsultancy earlier in the year will be cause for concern for those in government.
As I wrote in an article last month, a recent report by the Science and Technology Committee highlights that 90% of jobs in the country today require digital skills to some extent and suggests that we need 745,000 workers with these skills to fulfil industry demand by 2017.
The report also looks at methods for overcoming gender inequalities in its chapter headed Role models and diversity in STEM, stating:
“There is continuing concern over the lack of diversity among computer science/IT graduates and in wider Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers. Role models are an effective way of inspiring confidence to pursue a career path, but FDM Group highlighted that children and young people are more likely to identify with Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) as technology role models than Baroness Lane-Fox, Sheryl Sandberg (CEO of Facebook) or Marissa Mayer (president and CEO of Yahoo).”
“Despite long standing campaigns from Government and industry, however, there remains a marked gender imbalance in those studying computing—only 16% of computer science students at school are female (compared with 42% who studied ICT) and this low level of representation persists through higher education and in the workplace. A survey of more than 4,000 girls, young women, parents and teachers in 2015 showed that 60% of 12-year-old girls in the UK and Ireland thought that STEM subjects were too difficult to learn and nearly half thought that they were a better match for boys.”
Gender inequality as contributor to lost GDP
McKinsey back in April also conducted research into the actual monetary gains all US states can make should women attain full gender equality in the labour force.
Their report The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in the United States posits that collectively more than $4 trillion could be added to the US economy by 2025 if gender parity is fully realised.
Referring back to the Women in the Workplace data which sees the worst gender inequality in job roles further up the corporate ladder, it’s notable that The power of parity report singled out inequality in leadership and managerial positions as one of six priority ‘impact zones’ for action to improve business opportunities for women and the economic benefits this will lead to.
So are things improving?
Women in the Workplace does show that CEOs seem increasingly keen to make their workplaces more equal and that things are moving in the right direction. But progress is slow at just one or two percentage points closer towards gender parity from 2015 to 2016.
That said, it is positive to see another report highlighting the issues of inequality in tech, as well as for providing evidence for the social and economic gains from better gender parity in business. But this latest McKinsey data shows there is still a lot of ground to be covered in the industry before the gap is closed and the benefits are realised.
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