Women in Tech: Diversity talk “under construction”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Got tired of the debate? Well, we are not going to let you off the hook just yet. Earlier this year, HackerRank released a report on the *super hot* topic of Women in Tech and in light of our Women in Tech profile series, I propose a journey through numbers, analyses and real-life experiences, to try and shed some (brighter) light on the topic.
Gender equality, diversity, women empowerment; use any term that pleases you. Diversity talk, especially in the tech world, is still going strong. In this article, my aim is to take a closer look at the HackeRank 2018 Women in Tech report, as well as revisit our own Women in Tech survey from 2017; explore discrepancies, highlight diverse topics and, last but not least, cross-reference the results with what actual women in tech have already told us in our Women in Tech profile series.
HackeRank 2018 Women in Tech report
The 2018 Women in Tech report was conducted from October 16 to November 1, 2017, via SurveyMonkey with responses from 14,616 professional developers (1,981 women and 12,635 men) that HackerRank recruited via email from their community of 3.2 million members and through social media sites.
Results are intriguing. Despite the fact that there are some signs of progress, the issue of women’s precarious position in the tech world, compared to men, still lingers.
Let’s have a closer look at some of the results
As the figure shows, the number of women with an educational background in computer science is by far the dominant direction, especially for the age cohort 18-24. Most interestingly, the discrepancy between women included in the younger and older age cohorts is not that significant!
Another highlight of the report is the percentage of the women who said they are working in the tech industry. The majority of 53.3% work in the technology sector, which includes hardware and security, followed by the 10.7 % who work for finance and 18.3% working for unspecified industries.
When it comes to their actual technical skills, women developers seem to follow the general programming trends. The programming languages that women prefer to use correspond to the exact same trends highlighted by the HackerRank 2018 Developer Skills Report for the most in-demand languages for roles across front-end, back-end, and full-stack.
And yes, Java is once again the crowned royalty!
Nonetheless, the fact that women possess the most in-demand programming skills does not seem to be adequate. What I found most disturbing among the results of the report is the alarmingly higher percentage of women in junior positions than that of male developers, regardless of age.
According to the HackeRank 2018 Women in Tech report, women over 35 are 3.5 times more likely to be in junior positions than men. As Charlie Gerard told us:
Even if things are getting better, discrimination is still present in our industry. Even if women decide to work as developers because they are passionate, qualified, motivated, etc. […] they are sometimes treated like “diversity hires” and have to work a lot harder to convince people they have the skills, which can be exhausting and results in women leaving the field.
Charlie Gerard, software developer at ThoughtWorks
Lynn Langit seems to agree as she explained that one of the obstacles women in tech are faced with is:
Limiting assumptions about interest and capabilities of women – particularly problematic during adolescence (unfortunately often reinforced by some teachers and even parents).
Lynn Langit, independent cloud architect and developer
JAXenter 2017 Women in Tech Survey
Let’s take a step back in time and revisit our own Women in Tech Survey launched in 2017. Coming from a quite different angle that’s less technical and more focused on the soft aspects of the issue, the results of our survey showed the same precarious position for women in the tech industry.
First things first, to paint the general picture of the survey, the 56.3% majority of the respondents were developers, followed by a 13.6% of project leaders and software architects. According to the respondents,
While 32.8% of the respondents reported that a significant percentage of their company’s workforce consists of women, when it comes to the percentage of female employees within the IT departments, the numbers are not that encouraging.
In my opinion, the issue of women not working in the technology industry starts way before women enter the workforce. As a child, I never saw programming as a potential career. If you looked at all movies and series, all developers or hackers were male so, unintentionally, this is probably the way I was seeing society. I saw some jobs as particularly “women” and “men” jobs.
Charlie Gerard, software developer at ThoughtWorks
While a company may offer a large number of positions for female candidates, the number of these positions within the IT departments seems to be significantly higher for males than for female candidates. That being said, I am not here to place the blame on specific company policies; I wish to highlight the mere facts as well as the statements of a number of women in tech who seem to agree that the origin of the problem can mostly be traced back to women’s childhood, school years etc.
I believe historically it started at a very young age – maybe even at home, and certainly later in school. STEM was, for the most part, encouraged more for boys than girls.
Geneva Lake , VP of Worldwide Alliances for MapR
Another disturbing issue highlighted by the JAXenter survey is the fact that female employees in the tech industry appear to have experienced their gender being an issue at the workplace at least once while the alarmingly higher percentage of the respondents agrees that women in IT need to prove themselves more often, possibly leading towards female IT employees developing the so-called “imposter syndrome”, as Lynn Langit also argued.
…the higher up you climb, you will be the only woman in the room and, more often than not, women are outnumbered by men. Even though I have personally never felt intimidated by it, it has a lot of impact — on the way you dress, the way you speak and how comfortable you feel in your environment. These things can play a role in the way women perform in their jobs. To put it in harsher words, in an industry led by white men, products developed for white men and funded by white men — as open-minded as this industry likes to think it is, there are undercurrents. It’s present in product design, marketing, job description and hiring.
Rona Ruthen, Head Of Operations at Curve Ltd.
Is it their male colleagues’ fault? Is it the companies’ fault? Is it society’s fault? Who am I to dictate such an answer? And, frankly, I don’t believe anyone can be perfectly objective or accurate in this matter. The human history is full of instances when and where women have been considered inferior to men. It is no rocket science to figure out that there may be some unconscious bias in a company’s recruiting methods and/or personnel.
As far as I’m concerned, empowering young women while crashing the gendered ideals of “male” and “female” occupations would be the most solid first step to take in seeing women being represented in the tech industries at a higher percentage.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- “Technology reflects the people who make it”
- “In the right company, working in tech is a great career”
- Why women fall out of the tech pipeline
- Breaking the mold: ‘It’s not that you’re good — it’s that you’re female’
- How to avoid the culture of male programmers
- Creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills
- The more women you see in STEM, the less intimidating it is for others to join
- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Tips & tricks for women
- Transitioning into a tech career? Silicon Valley culture is one of the biggest initial obstacles
- Abby Kearns: “Diversity ensures continuous innovation”
- “In technology, you become a lifelong learner — More women should embrace this career”
- Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
- Everyday superheroes: “I don’t have a role model, my career was based on my mistakes”
- Diversity talk: For tech, it’s less about a pipeline problem and more of a marketing problem
- Diversity talk: It’s important to receive support from tech communities
- Everyday superheroes: Women just need to see more of us — techie women
- Anyone who wants to learn and grow won’t continue in an industry that tells them they are stupid
- There is too much allowance for tolerating toxic people in tech
- Coding myths and how finding communities like Hear Me Code helps you learn best
- 3 strategies to try out if you want to support women in tech
- Young women carry less career gender bias and more media influence
- Women are often pigeonholed into “soft skill” roles and pushed away from engineering
- Diversity talk: Many women suffer from the impostor syndrome
- How to succeed in tech: Shutterstock’s Rashi Khurana gives her tips
- Diversity talk: Using lingo is making tech sound harder than it really is
- Diversity talk: “We can’t expect men to hand us equality on a silver platter”
- How to succeed in tech: Agnès Crepet gives her tips
- “Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
- “Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”
- “Diverse teams can help prevent unhealthy competition that occurs sometimes in male-dominated teams”
- How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips
- “As the tech field becomes cloud-based, the flexibility and remote work culture will grow”
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from Atlassian’s Molly Hellerman
- Diversity talk: “Women should not be herded into a career to meet quotas”
- “The tech industry can move even faster by increasing the diversity of talent”
- Diversity talk: Even if your team is not very diverse, what matters is that they value you
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Always be curious
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from GitLab’s Barbie Brewer
- Diversity talk: Tips from Lisk’s Gina Contrino on how to succeed in tech
- “The combination of tech IQ and people EQ can set you apart in the tech world”
- “Mentorship, acceptance, and trust are really important in fostering gender diversity in the workplace”
- The tech industry is not solely responsible for pushing gender diversity
- “There isn’t enough clarity on what it means to work in tech and to be a woman in tech”
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Become comfortable with change
- Diversity in the AI world & how imposter syndrome is vital!
- “Even if women decide to work as developers because they are passionate and qualified, they are sometimes treated like diversity hires”
- “We need fewer WiT luncheons and more women coding & deploying projects side by side with men”