As Tech Gender Gap Widens, What Can Be Done to Reverse It?
The tech gender gap is a well-known problem without a simple solution. CIO recently reported on research from Accenture and Girls Who Code that gives us a better perspective on the battle we’re slowly losing. Combing through focus groups and interviewing thousands of people, their joint research revealed the share of women in U.S. computing is on its way to a 22 percent skid by 2025.
Somehow, despite growing understanding of the issue, the industry — and society at large — seems to be missing the mark when it comes to getting women interested in STEM fields. All is not lost, however: The research also found some optimistic potential for growth.
By simply providing encouragement at key moments in young women’s lives, the future could be brighter for women in STEM. It’s estimated that doing so would put 3.9 million women in computing by 2025, which represents three times the current figure. Furthermore, women’s cumulative earnings would soar to $299 billion, helping to simultaneously close the pay gap.
Encouragement at the Right Time
As Accenture and Girls Who Code pored over the results of their expansive study, they uncovered one common thread: Young women tend to lose interest in computing at three critical junctures in life. Actions to curb this trend include “sparking interest in junior high school; sustaining engagement in high school and inspiring a career after college,” CIO reported.
Looking at the numbers a little more closely, it was found that girls in junior high school have the propensity to occupy 1.6 million additional technology jobs by 2025. As these young women transition to high school however, they’re at an even greater risk of losing their passion for technology, often sliding as much as 30 percent. Being such an influential point in life, the study recommends summer outreach to spark interest. Eighty-one percent of girls that participated in summer tech activities maintained their drive for the field as they move on to college.
Closing the Tech Gender Gap
Once in college, young women simply need the inspiration to commit to a computing degree and, ultimately, a career. This appears to be a pressure point in the U.S., as only 40,000 new female computer science grads were available last year to fill the available 500,000 jobs.
In the end, if we really want to close the tech gender gap, the responsibility falls at least partially on the industry at large. Fortunately, by intervening at the right moment in these young women’s lives, they may just be inspired to achieve greatness in STEM fields.