Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate this important day for women all around the world, we’ve made a little list about curious fact surrounding the women that have dedicated their lives to programming and technology, a place where men have been dominant since its inception.
Women are, little by little, gaining the place they deserve in this incredible industry. Let’s take a walk through six simple but powerful facts that should put some things into perspective. Here we go:
Women are a minority, plain and simple
In the US, despite women accounting for 57% of the professional workforce, only 26% of computing occupations are held by women, almost an exact quarter of the total. Those numbers are even worse when we think of higher positions, with just 20% of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) being women.
In the ICT sector in Europe, out of 8 million people employed in 2015, only 16% were women. Countries like Czech Republic and Slovakia even fared below the 12% mark, while others like Bulgaria and Romania got up to about 25%. A quarter of the workforce, but still a marked minority.
The problem starts before graduating (and continues after)
Only 18 percent of recipients of a Computer and Information Sciences bachelor’s degree are women, even less in the case of major research universities. Though this might be changing (a study suggests it may be up to about one quarter), there’s a problem further down the road for young women looking to get into the market.
According to a story by Wired, recruiting sessions are a main reason in women’s reasons for leaving their aspirations in the industry behind. This is because, according to the quoted study, the environment during these sessions can often be hostile to women, from practices going from making sexist jokes to companies not including women among recruiters, and relegating them to talking about the companies cultures rather than technological aspects.
In Europe, for example, from 1,4 million people who were studying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the EU during 2015, just 17% were women. In some countries like Netherlands or Luxembourg, the total is even less than 10%. Though others like Bulgaria and Belgium are over 30%, it’s still a marked minority as well.
India could teach us a thing or two
Would you be surprised if you were told that more than 30% of the tech workforce in India are women? That’s a lot more than the standards in the US, the EU or UK (where women comprise 20% of the workforce). And yet it is true.
Something in India’s work culture is certainly works better, because participation of women is increasing, compared to the UK’s which is reportedly somewhat stagnated. A study, for example, showed that only 8% of Indian women felt left out on an academic setting, while American ones were almost 20%, more than double.
It’s true that India is known for its huge influence in the tech industry, including Silicon Valley. But nevertheless, there seems to be a cultural reason here as to why women perceive computing careers more negatively in the west.
Additionally, female leaders who act as role models exist in the west, it’s just that there are so much more men that it’s a real problem. In India, we can recognize several industry leaders like Kumud Srinivasan (former president of Intel India), Aruna Jayanthi (chief executive of Capgemini India) and Vanitha Narayanan (chief executive of IBM India). Others, like Padmasree Warrior (pictured above), have found success and prominence in Silicon Valley itself.
Things are changing
Between 2000 and 2015, there has been a 21% increase in the number of first-year undergraduate girls interesting in majoring in Computer Science. It might not be much, but it’s a significant start.
According to another study, going a bit further back into education, girls in high school who are taking Advanced Program test for computer careers has increased significantly. The feminist movement has also landed with might over Silicon Valley, exposing the male-dominated culture and forcing companies to take initiatives of inclusion.