Do It Anyway: Being A Woman In Technology

Despite various campaigns and programs over the years encouraging women to join science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training programs and jobs, we continue to witness women being underrepresented in this field. Although many companies and organizations discuss the importance of women being in STEM-focused careers, are we actually seeing changes that support the inclusion and representation of women? If so, do women feel supported in their role?

In this article we:

  • Present statistics about women in tech and STEM as a whole answering the question, “Is there equal representation?”
  • Discuss the challenges of being a woman in a STEM program or career
  • Discuss how to choose a career path and how to determine whether STEM may be right for you

What is the current state of women in technology?

There’s no question that the tech field is rapidly growing; Forbes projects that information technology will experience double-digit growth over the next decade and places it in one of the top five growing sectors. Despite advances in technology and plenty of career opportunity, has there been advancements in the representation and support of women in STEM?

Although the actual statistic depends on where you live and who is being surveyed, we found that:

  • Only 24% of computing jobs are held by women (American Enterprise Institute)
  • From 1971 to 2017, the female share of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences has decreased peaking at about 37% in 1984 and declining ever since (American Enterprise Institute)
  • In 2019 in the US, women make up nearly half the workforce (48%), but only represent 27% of all STEM workers; these figures increased from 38% and 8% in 1970
  • In 2021, approximately 65% and 35% of all Apple employees were male and female, respectively
  • Apple reported considerable increases in female representation from 2014 to 2021 with an 89% increase in female employees across the globe overall and an 87% increase in leadership in the same period

Although we may be seeing improvements in representation, there is still an underrepresentation of women in tech and STEM jobs.

So, we are seeing increases in women in tech, but is it enough?

For women who have decided to join a STEM program or career, it may not be a smooth sailing experience. Research suggests that there are still stereotypes connected to women in STEM. These stereotypes can “create obstacles for the attraction, retention and progression of girls and women to STEM studies and careers”. Research conducted by McKinnon and O’Connell (2020) found that women who speak out about their careers are often perceived negatively, even by their own gender. The stereotypes attached to women in STEM are more likely to be perceived as negative stereotypes (e.g., emotional) rather than positive (e.g., superwoman). Despite encouraging women to join STEM programs or careers, it’s important to be aware of biases and stereotypes that can impact a women’s openness in her role.

Broadly, women document experiencing sexist remarks, challenges with childcare, and the need to take care of aging parents. If they join a STEM career, they may find themselves in male-dominated work cultures and have fewer role models to look up to. It’s important to understand both the reasons why women don’t enter the STEM field in the first place but also why they don’t stay. From there, we can determine solutions that encourage and support women in this industry.

At Jarvis, we wanted to understand barriers to women joining tech

Choosing your career path can feel like a big decision – you may think of it as choosing what you will be doing over the 30+ years. But what influences a person to join or not join tech?

At Jarvis, we were interested to understand what led women to decide to be part of the “men’s world of engineers”. And more importantly, reasons why they would choose not to take a career in STEM. The most common reasons that came up were the experience of bias, overthinking, and questioning their abilities to compete with men.

Unfortunately, different traditional backgrounds and entrenched stereotypes can still have a huge impact on women’s chosen careers, as they are more likely to be chosen for them rather than coming of their own passion and desire. At Jarvis, we make women feel special and cherish their value in the technology industry. In part, we do that through workshops specially adapted to help break bias.

Below is an example of a Women in Tech webinar held by Jarvis, featuring speakers such as Mamta Sethi of Manulife, Pallavi Tripathi of CIBC, Janette McGrath of Liberty Mutual, Susan White of BMO, and Kathryn Hume of RBC who all hold leadership positions in top organizations. These women are examples of people who have achieved success and who are helping move the needle.

Photos of our speakers from Jarvis' Women in Technology webinar held on July 28th, 2022

Being successful in a career as a woman

What defines a successful career? Whether you are interested in entering the tech industry or another industry, the most important consideration is finding what works for you.

Grab every opportunity that comes your way. Throughout your career, you don’t want to look back and ask yourself why you didn’t try this out. Or regretting that you weren’t brave enough to adapt to changes.

A lot of women in the tech industry remember their first experience of awkwardness when sitting in a room with mostly men, and more often even a lot older men than themselves. But, isn’t that what we wanted – the opportunity to be in positions that feels going and be involved in something that interests us? Most definitely! So, be yourself and don’t be afraid to show what you got! Be fearless like Steve Shirley, the founder of a software company called Freelance Programmers. She decided to take things into her own hands and employed only women hires. Unfortunately, she got a bit carried away and it even became illegal with the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Sometimes you simply have to take bold actions to make a difference.

Conclusion

Jarvis as positive attitude and encourages women to believe in their abilities and overcome all biases. Women that join our Technical Consulting Program are specially prepared through various workshops and industry speaking events to be able to embrace their values in the workplace and how to overcome stereotypes. Our goal is to provide women not only with the technical requirements, but with confidence that their placement inside the industry is worth.

Talent Success Advisor

Naida Bajramovic

Naida has a master’s degree in the field of Consumer Behavior, where her passion and love for analyzing and talking with amazingly talented individuals come from. At Jarvis, she is a Talent Success Advisor.

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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.

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