The True Story of What It’s Like for Women in Tech
That tech is a primarily male-dominated industry isn’t news to anyone. But what is it about the sector that is so unattractive to women as a whole?
Some would say there is a huge misconception about tech jobs that would make women reconsider taking this career path. Others would further point to the lack of girls taking STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.
To make matters worse, research conducted by Harvard Business Review indicated that “US women working in science, engineering and technology fields were 45% more likely than their male colleagues to quit within a year of taking a job”.
But… why is it that women aren’t as attracted to STEM subjects when compared to men?
Surely it can’t be biological.
No. Actually the underlying reasons go deeper than purely a lack of interest.
In today’s post, we will dive into the nuances of the tech industry. But, more specifically, you’ll understand what it’s like to be a woman working in tech, what challenges these women face and, lastly, how to become a tech girl in this booming job sector that is attracting candidates like moths to a flame.
Without further ado, let’s get right into business.
Why Are There Less Females in Tech?
It’s a fact. Women are under-represented in the tech sector, period.
But that’s not all. Oh no. The women who are currently working in tech are also significantly underpaid, aren’t getting due promotions, and, are sadly faced with everyday discrimination in the workplace.
In fact, a recent study performed by The Guardian stated that “73% of workers in the tech industry believe the industry is sexist”.
For such (unsurprising) reasons, it’s no wonder women are more likely to leave the industry within a year when compared to their male counterparts
But, living in a #MeToo era, we cannot help but ponder how such a thing could still be possible.
One could say the issue stems from women’s educational background to common gender misunderstandings (and even a certain level of sexism that still exists).
Unfortunately, it seems there are millions of underlying barriers that impede even the most determined women from finding their place under the sun within the tech industry.
So yes, the obstacles to working in tech are undoubtedly higher for our female peers when compared to their male counterparts. But having a diverse team is a must in today’s day and age for any company. And that, naturally, includes the tech sector.
Challenges for a Woman Working in Tech
Now that we have a basic understanding of why there are less women working in tech, let’s go over four major challenges these tech women face.
A Feeling That They Don’t Belong
Just like female engineers have always felt, the ‘boy’s club’ within the tech industry can be overwhelming for female newcomers and create a feeling of un-belonging.
A 2017 poll in the Pew Research Center report found that “50% of women said they had experienced gender discrimination at work, while only 19% of men said the same”.
The so-called ‘brogrammers’ can often come off as intimidating to women who are trying to find a sense of belonging within a team. This lack of feeling like an integral part of the team is in itself a valid repellent for women who want to work in tech.
Lack of Role Models
The fact that the majority of tech companies around the globe are run by men shouldn’t shock anyone. And a dire consequence of this is the lack of female role models to inspire more women to work in tech.
As Linda Davis, CEO of Next Generation Recruitment, once said, “having key women in senior leadership roles will positively encourage other females to join an organization that is supportive of advancing women’s careers”
This not only signifies a lack of guidance for women to advance their knowledge, but further means these women just aren’t getting promoted into senior tech roles. That’s because there’s an absence of sponsorship from those in senior positions – typically men – rewarding women’s work and efforts.
Applying for a job interview is daunting in and of itself. But the discrimination that women face when applying for tech jobs during the hiring process also minimizes the number of women working in tech.
Social psychologist Corinne Moss-Racusin conducted an experiment to evaluate some inherent gender bias against job applicants in STEM. The study found that scientists perceived a job candidate named ‘John’ to be more competent than a candidate with an identical resume, but who was named ‘Jennifer’.
And as if a lack of belonging, absence of role models, and discrimination weren’t enough, the industry makes it difficult to combine having a tech career with motherhood.
A recent study by Fortune reported that “85% of 716 women surveyed who have left the tech industry cite maternity leave policy as a major factor in their decision to leave”.
This translates to tech employers who aren’t supportive of their female workforce by not offering flexibility in working only further discourages women from working in Tech.
How Do You Become a Tech Girl?
But if you’re a woman, don’t be discouraged. It’s time to change the status quo. And many companies worldwide are starting to see the value behind hiring a more diversified workforce, and this includes women working in tech jobs.
So if you’re currently on a mission to work in tech, here are a few tips that will make your life easier:
Get yourself a good mentor
Being a woman working in tech doesn’t mean navigating your career path alone. In fact, Amruta Karmarkar, a director of engineering at Better, attributed much of her success to advice she’s received from fellow mentors she's had in her life.
“Seek out people whose work and approach you respect to be your mentors,” she says. “I have been fortunate to have excellent mentors—both men and women—who have guided my career choices, served as sounding boards, and helped me identify opportunities for growth”.
Nicola Anderson is Chief Marketing Officer at MyTutor, a London-based EdTech firm. She recognizes the obstacles the tech industry can pose to other women interested in this career path. But she also believes many women’s lack of confidence is hindering their progression.
“As in other industries, women in tech often won’t apply for a job if they don’t feel they’re 100% qualified or have exactly the right experience,” she says. “As a result, women end up moving horizontally where their male peers progress.”
During one of her first engineering internships, Emilie Murphy experienced a similar feeling. She said, “After gaining some experience and becoming more confident in my skills, I have never let these doubts affect my work again (...) As women, we have a tendency to quickly count ourselves out... It’s important to be confident in your abilities.”
Never stop learning
The best way to expand your skills and move up the corporate ladder is to have an ever-curious mind and always feed your brain with continual learning.
It is essential to stay up-to-date and relevant within the technologies and the industry we work in. That’s because some of the skills you’ve studied a few years ago at uni have become outdated.
There are hundreds of both free and premium tech courses available online. So supply your mind with knowledge so that you don’t lose your competitiveness.
Reach out to TieTalent
And if you want to be a tech girl in countries like Switzerland and Germany, TieTalent is an award-winning Tech Jobs Marketplace that can help you land your dream job in tech.
Ana is the voice (erm, hands?) behind Ana Palombini Copywriting, where she provides content marketing for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and marketing agencies. Once graduated from a university where suits were mandatory, she is now a firm believer that work + sweatpants are ‘the way’ (cue to The Mandalorian theme song). When she is not furiously typing ‘till her fingers are numb, you'll find her watching Friends for the millionth time or having late-night sushi from her couch (or both). Say hi on LinkedIn or check out her website.