Famous women in tech (past & present)
When celebrating the heroes of technology and IT, it’s often men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who receive the lions-share of the glory, but women have played a significant role in the ongoing evolution of computer technology. Many credit Ava Lovelace as the first computer programmer, in a time before computers even existed, and women from Grace Hopper to the women who worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, were key in the development and adoption of modern computing devices. In an effort to pay homage to the contributions of women in technology (past and present), we think it’s high time to give them big thanks and proper accolades.
Sadly, women’s many contributions to technology are frequently left out of the history books. To get up to speed on great women in technology and their many accomplishments and contributions, check out these articles: Mashable’s 15 Unsung Women in Tech; BizTech’s Mothers of Technology: 10 Women Who Invented and Innovated in Tech; and Information Age’s 5 Top Women in Tech History.
And for a good overview of women getting it done in tech today, HuffPo’s 18 Female Founders In Tech To Watch and Fast Company’s 30 Most Influential Women in Technology draw attention to talented and powerful women who are taking the tech industry by storm.
The sad state of gender equality in tech
If you want to be part of an industry always on the cutting edge and consistently driving change, innovation, and progress, then technology is the place to be. The impact of technology on our lives – past, present, and future – cannot be overstated, having transformed everything from how we communicate, learn, travel, work, play, and transact business to how we feed the population, build cities, consume media, and safeguard our health.
Tech controls almost every facet of daily life. As such, the tech industry possesses a unique, seemingly infinite power to effect positive change. Despite this revolutionary potential, the tech industry is not making much progress when it comes to gender equality. The number of women working in tech lags far behind other fields, including business, law, and medicine.
According to Information is Beautiful, the population of the United States is roughly split evenly between genders (51% women to 49% men), and the percentage of women in the U.S. labor force, according to the United States Department of Labor, has climbed to 46.8% over recent decades. However, when you look at tech companies, their employee gender ratios do not reflect this, with women making up less than 20% of U.S. tech jobs, according to recent data.
Moreover, a study recently released by Hired, Inc. shows a glaring gender pay gap in technology. According to the study, 63% of the time, men were offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same company. The report found that companies were offering women between 4% and a whopping 45% less starting pay for the same job. Women in tech also tended to undervalue their market worth, asking for less pay 66% of the time, and would often ask for 6% less salary than their male counterparts.
The gender gap in tech, in large part, begins in education. More than half of college and university students are women, and the percentage of women entering many STEM fields has risen, but computer science is a glaring exception: the percentage of female computer- and information-science majors peaked in 1984, at about 37%. It has declined, more or less steadily, ever since. Today, it stands at a mere 18% (as reported in The Atlantic).
Some other statistics that highlight the gap in equality in tech include:
- Women own only 5% of tech startups.
- Of the proprietary software jobs, only 28% are held by women.
- Female executives only make up 11% of the total at Fortune 500 companies.
- 40% of women believe that companies do not spend enough time addressing diversity — while 82% of men think that organizations spend too much time on it.
Closing the gender gap in tech
There’s no easy solution to the tech gender gap, and even determining the causes of the gap is difficult. However, it’s a problem the industry needs to solve. Data reveals there were 627,000 unfilled positions in tech in April 2017. Even if women enter tech in large numbers, there are still projected to be millions of unfilled jobs going forward.
Obviously, the aim should be to have a business filled with creative, intelligent, self-motivated individuals, regardless of their gender. It’s important for businesses to have a mix of different perspectives, and this is improved through a healthy mix of both men and women. Diversity in the workplace creates more thoughtful perspectives and thorough approaches to problem-solving. The contributions women make to a more inclusive workforce come from expanding the range of skills and backgrounds that are brought to the table.
As much as there has to be a shift across the whole industry to find and foster women who can bring so much to businesses, this also needs to be addressed on an individual level. The tech industry will flip the trend of gender equality on its head one woman, and one man, at a time by looking for the best candidates, fostering differing opinions, seeing the benefit of the varying paths that have lead people to specific jobs, and encouraging the retention and the upward mobility of women.
Still, there are reasons for optimism, and there’s hope that women will achieve critical mass in the field and provide a more welcoming environment to future generations.
For our part, AST is proud of our diverse workforce and have always been committed to finding and developing the best female candidates for our open positions. 25% of our North American workforce is female, and our goal is to increase that to 35% by the end of our next fiscal year. Starting in 2019, we are launching the AST Academy, a program specifically dedicated to identifying younger professionals that are interested in entering the IT professional world. As part of that effort, we will be actively seeking qualified female candidates to mentor and incorporate into our workforce. At AST, we strive to be at the forefront in developing innovative solutions for our customers, and we are equally committed to being in the forefront of retaining and developing a highly diverse and highly skilled professional workforce.
Contact AST today.