Tech has a gender diversity problem
For years the tech industry has been grappling with a problem that it still hasn’t solved: its companies are overwhelmingly staffed by men and lack gender diversity, especially in their technical roles. It’s been no secret, either. And while strides have been made, it’s an issue that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.
As recently as July 2020, the vast majority of tech’s employees are still men by about a 2:1 gender gap. At Apple, Google, and Facebook, only 23% of their tech roles are staffed by women. At Microsoft, that number is 20%.
And what’s worse, not exactly everyone has caught on. Gender diversity in tech still varies across tech’s largest companies. In some years there are improvements, and in others there are steps in the wrong direction.
Aside from the obvious issues with a lack of diversity, these ratios are bad for business. Multiple analyses have shown that gender diversity has tangible financial benefits, too.
According to The New Yorker in 2017, tech companies lose more than $16 billion per year from half of tech’s women workforce turning over — possibly from a heightened sense of Impostor Syndrome or toxic culture. There are also direct correlations between a company’s percentage of women employees with its return on equity. And companies led by women have equity returns 226% higher than the S&P 500’s equity returns.
The list goes on. Unfortunately, though, there are countless barriers for women who work in the tech industry and women who code.
What causes the gender gap in tech?
It sure would be simpler if there was one identifiable answer as to why there’s such a big gender gap in tech.
Experts have attributed the issue to a lot of things.
- Some attribute the gender gap to a disparity in STEM interest between men and women, though studies show unequal stereotypes are a very avoidable culprit for any such differences.
- Others blame the “meritocracy myth,” citing that the American sense of meritocracy is inherently biased against women.
- Then there’s the sheer fact that 53% of the time there’s an open tech role, companies hire a man to fill the role before even interviewing one woman.
- Downright training people to be more aware? Doesn’t work.
In 2019, Edutopia wrote an eye-opening article about “math identity” in young girls. When young girls are asked to draw a scientist or mathematician, they’re twice as likely to draw a picture of a man than of a woman. That seems weird, especially since around those ages girls match boys in algebra scores, in science courses, and in other math courses.
Everything lines up, and then? Girls pursue advanced STEM paths at much lower rates than boys.
One study from the National Bureau of Economic Research explores the effect of biased teachers on girls and their pursuit of STEM. It shows that at a young age girls can be deterred from STEM disciplines by subtle or even overt indicators that these fields are better suited for men. This is bunk, though, proven by almost identical math scores, science scores, and more — not to mention simple intuition.
Empowering women in the tech industry
Only 26% of computing and math jobs are held by women. Let’s do our part to improve that.
We can help address this issue — from elementary schools to the workplace to society by and large. We can talk about STEM differently, tackle bias in new and different ways, and even use AI to address hiring bias.
We can also increase access to the best coding bootcamps for women who want to join the tech field.
At Flatiron School, we take that to heart. We need more women in tech jobs. And we believe that you have to walk the walk and put your ambitions into action every single day.
How Flatiron School is helping bridge the tech gender gap
That’s why we constantly collaborate with like-minded companies to offer scholarships and accessibility initiatives for women who want to learn to code and join the tech force. Having worked with companies like Brooklinen, Citi, Karlie Kloss, Women Who Code, and Seatgeek as part of our Women Take Tech program, we’ve offered more than $1 million in scholarships to empower women to learn software engineering or learn data science in our flagship courses.
And the results are proof that our efforts are working.
We’re extremely proud of the results from our latest Jobs Report — third-party-examined annual reports we release to be honest and transparent with our students and show successfully our students land jobs and start new careers.
Our 2020 Jobs Report saw women accept roles and job offers within the reporting period at a higher rate and with higher average starting salaries than men in the report.
In the report, 90% of Flatiron School job-seeking grads who accepted offers and identified as women landed jobs compared to 83% who identified as men, a whopping 7% difference.
Further, job-seeking grads who accepted offers and identified as women saw an average starting salary of $72,280 compared to $68,365 for those who identified as men — a difference of $3,915.
In short, women are attending Flatiron School, succeeding, and thriving at incredible rates.
Placement rates: For job-seeking women graduates included in the 2020 Jobs Report including full-time salaried roles, full-time contract, internship, apprenticeship, and freelance roles, and part-time roles during the reporting period
Average starting salaries: For job-seeking students who accepted full-time salaried jobs during the reporting period and disclosed their compensation. The average starting salary for students who took full-time contract, internship, apprenticeship, or freelance roles and disclosed compensation was $31/hr for graduates who identified as male and $33/hr for graduates who identified as female. The average pay for a part-time role was $24/hr for graduates who identify as male and $30/hr for graduates who identify as female.
How many women attend Flatiron School? What’s the gender breakdown in the classroom?
Through the aforementioned diversity initiatives like Women Take Tech aimed at providing an affordable and accessible tech education for women, Flatiron School’s classroom breakdown outpaces other higher-ed institutions.
In our latest Jobs Report, 33% of our graduates were women. That’s 12 points higher than the 21% of women who accounted for Bachelor’s degrees in Computer and Information Science in 2019. You can download the full Jobs Report here.
What about at Flatiron School itself?
If we didn’t practice what we preached, we’d be part of the problem. Our tireless work to empower women and other underrepresented groups in tech starts with us, and we try every day both to empower everyone at our company and encourage diverse thoughts and solutions to make sure we create the best possible education experience for our students.
At Flatiron School, our workforce is comprised of 55% of women, 43% men, and 1% gender non-binary.
Continuing to empower women and drive change
As we mentioned earlier, there is no single reason we can point to for why STEM and tech fields have such a dramatic gender gap. And we know there isn’t one silver bullet way to fix the gender gap in tech, though we’re going to keep a cautious eye on that AI.
Our best foot forward is to continue doing our part and encouraging others to do theirs. We hope that next year our report is even better.
Raise awareness, help fight biases at young ages and in the workplace, and be aware of the self-fulfilling attitudes we all have toward who can succeed in STEM fields.
Really, just embrace diversity.
Learn more about women in tech and the barriers our students have faced in the past with our Women in Tech Roundtable below.