For all the advancements in technology over the past several years, women comprise only 28% of people who work in tech as of 2021. Women of color account for even less – under 2%. Clearly, gender equality and diversity in the tech industry has a long way to go.
Despite a growing number of voices at tech companies declaring that diversity is a priority, the data isn’t yet showing concrete gains. To change this, tech companies and must successfully create pathways for women to pursue careers in technology—and the industry will benefit from a much broader talent pool.
4 Challenges and Best Practices
To make good on their good intentions, tech companies need to understand why their efforts fall short. A comprehensive study launched by Melinda Gates examined how tech-company philanthropy and corporate social responsibility investments can improve the gender diversity of the tech pipeline. Data revealed four challenges and corresponding best practices.
McKinsey & Co. Outlined some of the challenges and best practices:
Companies don’t apply a gender lens to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Despite many leaders’ stated desire to bring more women into the sector, most companies don’t invest in improving gender diversity through their philanthropy—only 5% of companies’ giving went to programs with an explicit focus on females in tech.
Focus on women and girls
As part of a broader diversity effort, companies should support either girls-only programs or coeducational programs that focus on achieving at least 40% representation of girls through proactive recruitment and retention. Maintaining a focus on women’s equal representation is the only way to avoid replicating the same gender ratios we see in tech today.
Underrepresented women of color fall through the cracks.
Although companies express a strong desire to reach underrepresented women of color, less than 0.1% of tech companies’ philanthropic giving actually focuses on targeting them. Many companies sponsor programs to reach underrepresented communities generally rather than doubling down on removing barriers for women of color in particular.
Solutions for those facing the most barriers—women of color
Women experience different roadblocks and biases when pursuing a career in tech due to race, socioeconomic status, and other elements of their identities. Focusing on the experiences of those who face the greatest number of barriers will spur solutions that improve the inclusivity of the tech sector for all underrepresented groups.
Investments focus on middle and high school students, though later on-ramps are effective at involving more women and girls.
Tech companies concentrate 66% of philanthropic funding on K–12 programs, compared to only 3% on college-level programs. Although many invest in recruiting efforts early on, few invest philanthropically in higher education to build the cohort from which they will ultimately recruit, pointing to a missed chance to influence the pipeline.
It is never too late to engage—and connect programs to each other.
Females can begin their journey into tech at many different points. However, if the experience of women is one-off, they’re less likely to remain engaged. Encouraging programs to connect with one another will allow women to transition smoothly from one experience to the next.
Challenge # 4:
Companies struggle to navigate through the limited evidence of what works.
Sixty-one percent of companies report that it’s difficult to know which programs have the most impact, and 42% resort to self-guided online research to drive their giving strategy. The need for more research and the synthesis and dissemination of findings is evident.
Companies can drive knowledge development by funding organizations and grantees to collect data against a consistent set of metrics. Creating a dashboard that captures relevant metrics for companies to apply across their CSR and philanthropic programs related to women in tech will help to coalesce a manageable set of indicators that enable you to understand what works.
Prioritizing the inclusion of women in the tech industry is just another step toward bringing society closer to normalizing the experiences—and challenges—of all women. Creating meaningful and caring experiences for women in your company shows your commitment to the well-being of all employees—which is worth celebrating.
Women-in-Tech to Watch in 2022
To recognize and honor powerful women who are moving technology forward, we want to highlight the top technologists, innovators, executives, and influential women holding leadership positions in the tech industry. Check out this list, compiled by WomenTech, of 100 women in tech leadership to watch in 2022. These bright and talented women are making history.
Extraordinary Women in Tech at 10Pearls
Since our founding in 2004, 10Pearls has been committed to empowering women and supporting programs that encourage women to pursue tech careers. In fact, our concerted efforts have made 10Pearls the premier destination for women in tech. Take a look at these percentages as of January 2022.
- 40% of new hires are female
- 33% of employees are female
- 85% of employees are women of color
Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion is an ongoing effort—which is why we created a center for continuous and advanced learning called the 10Pearls University to promote internal growth, community engagement, and diversity. One specific example of how we inspire women to excel at 10Pearls is an event called Women Tech Quest (WTQ). Launched in 2017, the event highlights the work of women in IT and challenges stigmas by creating a platform where women can prove their mettle. The event encompasses three tracks: coding, testing, and design. Fueled by the spirit to uplift women in tech, WTQ is a rigorous competition that handpicks the country’s top women programmers, quality assurance pros, and designers. Winners get recognition and opportunities to boost their careers.