The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in 2020, but universities are only expected to produce enough graduates to fill 29 percent of those. Also, 74 percent of girls in middle school express an interest in STEM but when choosing a college major, only 0.3 percent choose to pursue computer science. The lack of qualified software engineers is hurting the country’s ability to grow companies, and we need women to help close the gap and support this growing industry.
According to Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”
We Need a Global, Diverse Perspective
The tech industry is global. It needs to represent and understand consumers as a whole. However, many tech companies don’t have enough of a female perspective in order to give accurate input. In a recent study, Fortune ranked 14 tech companies in terms of gender diversity. The data showed that Pandora (51 percent male, 49 percent female), Indiegogo (55 percent male, 45 percent female), and eBay (58 percent male, 42 percent female) were among the most diverse, while Twitter (70 percent male, 30 percent female), Microsoft (72 percent male, 28 percent female), and Intel (77 percent male, 23 percent female) were among the least diverse. With greater diversity comes better tech. The current technology we are using is missing the crucial female voice. With fewer women in tech, we miss the potential for greater innovation.
In a recent study, research showed that women’s choices impact up to 85 percent of purchasing decisions. Tech companies will benefit from better understanding the perspectives and needs of this strong economic force. Not only that, but companies need teams of people with a variety of strengths and who approach problems in different ways. Simply put: diversity is good for business.
We Need Less Discrimination and Gender Bias
Since there are fewer women in tech, there is a distinct gender bias. In a recent study, two resumes were submitted for a lab manager position, identical except for the names (John and Jennifer). The female candidate was offered a lower salary, and rated as both less competent and less hirable. We need to work towards undermining this bias.
According to Women Who Tech, only 7 percent of investor money goes to women-led startups, and only 13 percent of venture-backed companies have at least one woman founder. This needs to change.
Having more women in tech now will make it less unusual for women to pursue the profession. With more female tech trailblazers, girls will be less likely to be discouraged from joining the industry. We need more females in tech that young women can look up to, see themselves in, and learn from. One of my digital recruiters, Lisa Arnold, recently spoke on a panel for Women in Wireless, a group empowering female leaders in the mobile and digital space. The event was “Upward Mobility,” and explored the central question of how women are impacting the NYC mobile tech startup scene. The discussion also explored how these companies appeal to the female consumer.
Lisa spoke on the state of the wireless workplace for women, and has a great perspective since she works on the hiring end for many of these companies. She believes mobile is an emerging arena for women – “Women have been able to make more of a dent in mobile because it is a newer division, and because women are so important for mobile marketing. That’s not something that comes up overtly in hiring discussions, but the conversations have been changing and it reflects the increasing opportunities for women at these companies.”
We Need Better Entrepreneurs
According to the Centre of Entrepreneurs, if we want more businesses to thrive, grow without unnecessary volatility, and create more jobs, then we need to prioritize female entrepreneurship. Sarah Fink, head of research, has said, “Women entrepreneurs are more likely to work towards controlled, profitable growth with relatively little interest in merely positioning themselves for lucrative exit. They often prefer to re-invest business profits over equity investment to scale sustainability.”
The Centre for Entrepreneurs offers five reasons why women might just make better entrepreneurs than men:
- Women are better calculated risk-takers
- Women are less prone to overconfidence
- Women are more ambitious – among those already running their own business, 47 percent of women are eager to start another one within the next three years, compared to only 18 percent of men
- Women are more likely to take the long-term view, while men are more likely to focus on fast-term growth
- Women succeed despite facing more barriers than their male counterparts (e.g. less technical knowledge, smaller networks)
In conclusion, we need more women solving problems and starting companies to power the growing tech industry, drive the economy, and help shape our future.
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