The striking absence of women in technology is as unsettling as it is well documented. We see and hear about it every day in the media, in our business community and even at our own recruiting events, where a tech talk open to 50 students may have just one or two women in attendance.
In a small town with a high cost of living, hiring diverse candidates even at mid-to-senior levels is an enormous challenge. Add our local competitors for candidates into this mix, and it becomes extremely challenging to create a workforce at all, let alone a diverse one.
A lack of women in technology (and in upper management) isn’t a fluke, as The New York Times so aptly states: “in business, as in politics, women who aspire to power evoke far more resistance, both overt and subtle, than they expected would be the case by now.”
An expected 1.4 million jobs in computer science will open by 2020, and the U.S. will have enough graduates to fill only 29 percent of them, according to TechCrunch. Less than 3 percent of those jobs are expected to be filled by women.
Girls Who Code reports that about 74 percent of young girls express an interest in STEM fields and computer science. However, only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26 percent of computing jobs are held by women. When does the drop-off occur? It happens at an alarmingly tender age.
According to a study of 240 children, five-year-old girls and boys both associated intellect with their own gender; however, by ages six and seven, only boys still held that view. By first grade, girls already perceived men to be smarter than women.
Stamping out sexism, inspiring young girls to pursue their passions, and supporting them in their early careers is critical, as is providing a workplace environment where women’s contributions are rewarded equally to men’s.
Creating an inclusive culture helps attract women to careers in tech. Only 5 percent of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women, but PayJunction exceeds that average tenfold, with women filling more than half of its management positions. We currently have female managers across our HR, risk, operations, marketing and sales development teams.
Women represent 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, so a 50 percent female management rate should be expected, not exceptional.
We don’t promote female employees to differentiate our business. We do it because we believe that the personal and professional growth of each employee is what allows our company to flourish. We encourage our employees to tackle new challenges, continuously push the envelope and take full ownership over their roles. By handling each employee’s career at PayJunction with this level of indiscriminate attention, we uphold a fair and equal workplace culture that supports all employees’ advancements.
On a societal level, we have a long way to go to ensure that all young girls maintain a positive perception of their strengths. However, women in the workplace can come together here and now to inspire and support one another in their careers. They need not do this alone: Companies can demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity at an organizational level. They can sponsor events that promote diversity within the community and among local employers.
PayJunction sponsors several Meetup groups that offer learning and networking opportunities to the community, including one specifically targeted at women in technology. Our next event is scheduled for September 28, and will include chocolate, networking and PowerPoint Karaoke!
There are plenty of opportunities to increase inclusivity in the workplace, and everyone can play a part in promoting equality at every level of a business’s organization. By communicating about these topics and banding together with other women in technology, we can identify systemic issues and collaborate to find solutions that support us all.
Has your business been working to become more inclusive? Is your organization linked to other companies that prioritize diversity? We’d love to hear how team reflects your workplace culture in the comment section below.