A lack of gender diversity has plagued tech since its earliest days, and though the industry has progressed over the last 50 years, today’s numbers remain bleak.
Women currently make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force, but hold less than 20 percent of tech jobs. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that over 40 percent of the women who do enter the tech field ultimately decide to leave it – speaking volumes about the industry’s hostile culture.
The pandemic has only exacerbated tech’s gender gap, particularly for women of color. In the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s consensus study report Transforming Trajectories for Women of Color in Tech, the editors cite “structural and social barriers in tech education, the tech workforce, and in venture capital investment” that “disproportionately and negatively affect women of color,” impeding their advancement to leadership positions.
Numerous studies have shown that gender diversity promotes innovation and boosts revenue across the industry, but women still face considerable barriers to entry and success nonetheless. According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report, “companies where women are well represented at the top earn up to 50 percent higher profits and share performance.”
In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Girls In Tech founder and CEO Adriana Gascoigne describes the unique irony of gender bias in tech specifically.
“Many U.S. sectors have had to confront their lack of diversity and inclusion, but it represents a particular disconnect in tech. The industry generally sees itself as supportive of gender and racial equity and politically progressive. . . And the ethos behind tech is progress and change, which is particularly incongruous with such disappointing demographics. A lack of diversity hurts products and services as well as company culture and performance. Diverse companies are better able to adapt and thrive as consumer populations change.”
Tech companies big and small must assume responsibility for the enduring gender gap, working to address it through targeted diversity and inclusion initiatives, and support programs for women-identifying employees.