Women in Technology: That unicorn feeling

May 11 2020 by Paolo Casula
women in technology


It’s no secret that the technology industry has a problem with women. IBM reports that women make up less than 20% of the tech workforce worldwide, but this gender gap is only the tip of the iceberg. While the reasons that women in technology choose not to pursue a career in technology are varied, statistics and personal anecdotes reveal some common truths about reasons behind the gender gap.

The numbers game:

The number of women in the tech industry peaked in 1990, when the Internet was in its infancy!  In the US, women filled 31% of the nation’s tech workforce in 1990 whereas they only filled 25% in 2014.

The number of women pursuing computer science degrees has dropped by nearly half since 1984 with a similar scenario in higher education.  Whilst 30% of computer science graduates were women in 1984, that number has now fallen to 18%.

Underrepresentation in leadership positions:

A June 2016 US study show that only 11% of CIOs and 5% of CEOs in top 1,000 technology companies were women.  It is an evidence that the needle is not moving as quickly as it should.

So why is this needle not moving:

The gender gap appears to go back to school: when kids first start to think seriously about career paths they often look for role models.  But what if they can’t find this kind of validation?  For bright teenage girls with an interest in science, technology, engineering, or maths, what happens when those STEM disciplines are seen and represented as a male domain?  Research suggests that interest in these subjects fades.

It appears that as girls grow up, they become convinced that the obstacles for women entering the tech industry look daunting: according to Girls Who Code (an organisation that helps young women with technical skills and learning opportunities)

66% of 6-12 year old girls express an interest in science / technology

only 32% of 13-17 year old girls do

it then drops to 4% when they are of college age…

Challenging the ‘boys’ club’ attitude:

Many women in the tech sector have voiced their frustration with an endemic problem; feeling excluded by male bosses, colleagues, as well as customers who still act as if the industry is a boys-only club.

However all is not doom in gloom as we will demonstrate in a further blog piece next week. 

In the meantime, do not despair – a growing number of private sector companies and numerous eminent public sector organisations such as UNHCR and UNESCO are actively encouraging female candidates to apply for tech jobs worldwide – check out an array of tech positions on www.gcfjobs.com and participate in our online fair ‘Women in Technology’, this Thursday 14th May.