- More women are applying for tech jobs every year — many without STEM degrees — according to a study of female students and recent graduates by Handshake, a career site for college students. The study found that 72% more women applied for jobs as software engineers and developers than in the prior year. Handshake said the study’s purpose was to assess progress in closing the gender tech gap. It is based on data from 100,000 female applicants on its career platform.
- In other study results, 35% of female applicants to software engineer and developer roles majored in non-STEM subjects. Despite their lack of STEM degrees, more than half of the applicants listed technical expertise on their resumes in SQL, Python, Java and data analysis, Handshake said. Overall, 85% more women applied for data scientists roles and 227% more women applied for data engineer positions.
- "By no means have the challenges facing women entering the tech workforce disappeared, but this survey's results suggest an encouraging trend with women remaining undeterred and persevering despite the obstacles," Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s VP of higher education and student success, said in a media release. "The results serve as further inspiration for us as we work in conjunction with our university and employer partners to help connect women with opportunities that will make impactful change in their lives and in society at large."
Although the Handshake study indicates some progress in closing the gender tech gap, bias in the tech industry persists. A study from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that tech employers ranked female and nonwhite applicants with 4.0 GPAs the same as male applicants with lower GPAs of 3.75. Hiring biases can give less qualified male applicants an unfair advantage, raise the risk for employers to violate anti-discrimination laws and set back progress made in closing the gender- and race-based gaps.
Experts have said that social biases that prompt people to perceive women, African Americans, Latinx and certain other nonwhites as less than are factors in sustaining these gaps in the male-dominated sector. Employers can help remove barriers to entry for women in technology by:
- creating formal mentorship or advisor programs;
- informally pairing women with other women on the team;
- allowing women to break out of their work silos;
- sharing ideas globally to create more solutions; and
- volunteering with STEM programs for young women.
CEO support is also crucial in attracting, retaining and promoting more marginalized groups in tech organizations. Support from the top can send a message to the rank and file that barriers that keep out or discriminate are unacceptable.