Research has shown that diversity brings new information and perspectives to a group, leading to better decision-making. But women comprise less than a quarter of the tech workforce, despite the fact that the tech sector continues to grow.
Why? And what can be done about it?
For Women’s History Month, today’s WatchBlog explores our recent report on representation of women in the tech sector. Listen to our podcast and read on to learn what we found.
How many tech jobs are filled by women?
We found that the tech workforce—people working in mathematics, computers, or engineering—has grown substantially over the past 10 years. Yet the percentage of women in tech jobs has remained at 22% during the same period, despite the fact that they account for 49% of the general workforce.
We also found that women were less represented in both management and non-management positions at tech companies. For example, women held about 19% of senior-level management positions at tech companies in 2015, but nearly 31% of these positions at non-tech companies.
What could help?
One factor that might be contributing to lower representation is the number of women earning degrees that prepare them for tech-related jobs—women hold 58% of all degrees but only 24% of tech-related degrees. Additionally, some tech companies told us that they are seeking to improve their internal culture to increase retention and promotion rates among minority and female workers, for example, by providing internal training and classes for employees to improve their readiness to be promoted.
But the federal government could also do more to help.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides federal oversight by investigating charges of discrimination. EEOC has identified barriers to recruitment and hiring in the technology sector as a strategic priority, but when it conducts investigations, it does not systematically record the industry involved using North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, which are the standard used by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments. This hampers its ability to conduct sector-related analyses to help focus its efforts.
Additionally, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs enforces federal contractors’ compliance with affirmative action requirements. The agency has not assessed key aspects of how it reviews workplaces, such as its establishment-based approach to selection. Without addressing these issues, OFCCP may miss opportunities to hold contractors responsible for complying with affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements.
Want to know more about our recommendations to EEOC and OFCCP? Check out our report.