International Women’s Day: Breaking the barriers of STEM
Despite another year having passed since International Women’s Day 2017, the issues surrounding a lack of female employment within the global technology sector still remains a fundamental problem to the industry.
According to research from non-profit organization Girls Who Code, despite 74% of girls showing an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in US middle school, only 0.4% select degrees in this subject area.
As a result, there is a significantly smaller pool of STEM talent, restricting a huge amount of potential within the technology sector.
“The tech sector is very competitive and every company wants to bring in the best talent,” said Marianne Calder, VP of EMEA at automated software firm, Puppet. “To do this most effectively you have to assess 100% of talent out there, not just 50% of it.”
“The technology sector is an exciting, fast-paced sector, but is sadly still very male dominated, partly due to the alarmingly low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at college,” said Shantayne Augustine, Marketing Director, Fuzzy Logix.
One such example is in Canada, where a report from MoveTheDial revealed that only 5% of Canadian technology firms have a female founder or CEO.
Changing this culture is no easy matter, but in order to do so, the role of women in technology must be promoted, both at a young age in education and in the workplace with greater career opportunities.
“As it stands today everyone can promote women in STEM to create a large female workforce in technology and science,” said Swati Chopra, Director of Global Support Services and Customer Success, Bitglass. "Salary and promotion criteria should be the same for men and women, and equal opportunity promotions should exist to promote from within a diverse pool of prospective candidates.”
Some such initiatives already exist, with PwC having joined forces with 18 major organizations last month to launch the Tech She Can Charter in a pledge to help boost the number of females pursuing technology careers.
PwC’s own study, Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap, revealed that only 3% of women cite a technology-based career as their first choice, due to both a lack of resources and information from a young age and role models within the industry.
“Waiting until women are entering work is simply too late - to boost the number of females in technology we need to take coordinated action to start inspiring girls to consider technology careers while they are still at school,” said Sheridan Ash, Women in Tech leader at PwC and The Tech She Can Charter Founder.
“By working together, we can reach more females at an earlier stage of their lives. We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there, in a sector that has the power to change the world.”