How can we take women in tech more seriously and cultivate more female representation in a predominantly male industry? Why does this matter? We might consider that women have an enviable track record when they do make it to the top. In fact, Women-led businesses have growth rates five times that of male-led businessess.
Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieve 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. That’s according to new research presented at a recent conference in San Francisco organized by Women 2.0, a media company devoted to women founders in the tech industry. [Source]
Yet, female representation lags behind
In the U.S., even though 28% of entreprises are headed by women, only 3% of tech startups in Silicon Valley are started by women.
In Australia, only 4% of startup owners are women.
Today, only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26 percent of computing jobs are held by women. It’s worse at the top of the corporate world — just 5 percent of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.
Why is there less representation by women in this industry?
Possible reasons could include:
- Dismissive attitude from male peers (female coders with equal talent are placed in social roles, because their value is viewed as more socially rather than more technically competetent);
- Lack of confidence in women to self-advocate or pursue tech careers;
- Pitching/funding/accelerator schemes that cater to ‘male’ gendered ways of doing business
I remember growing up in the 80s when Atari came out, and I remember that it was mostly boys who played those early video games. Fast forward thirty years and it is no great surprise to me that tech is male-heavy. The video games of the 80s were marketed to boys, with the consequence that mostly boys played them. So many coders I have met tell me that they got their start working out how to play video games as a kid!
It might all be changing, but slowly
If a large factor has been that current tech experts were reared on a diet of video games marketed to predominantly boys in the 80s, then there is hope. These days, gamers are half female (this article says 52%), so something has definitely changed.
There are some fantastic programs out there getting more and more girls into gaming, coding and beyond. Form after school classes (some virtual), to in-school programs run by charities and corporates, such as Go Daddy’s school programs, to name but one.
Mentorship still make a huge difference in getting women out there in the tech industry
According to a 2013 report led by Vivek Wadhwa, “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World”
… more than 80 percent of female tech entrepreneurs reported having mentors, most with both men and women acting in that role. Of those who said they had women mentors, 45 percent reported they were “very helpful.”
Here are some great resources I’ve compiled on women in tech and startup.
5 Reasons Females thrive in tech
Women and venture capital
Women and pitching