Recently, a report from McKinsey & Company stated: “It is hardly news that women — particularly women of color — are chronically underrepresented in the US tech sector. Perhaps more alarming is that the trend is headed in the wrong direction. The percentage of computing roles women hold has largely declined in the United States over the past 25 years.”
Personally, I am extremely fortunate to work for a company that is conscientious about diversity and opportunities for career advancement regardless of one’s color, creed, or religion. This is particularly important given that, as a tech company, women are woefully underrepresented in our field. We care about making sure that women have opportunities to advance in their, just like men. So, instead of informing you about social media, I wanted to use this blog post to inform you about issues that women currently face and highlight a few organizations who have been effectively fighting for female advancement.
Issues That Women Face in The Tech Space
Misogynist discrimination is deep-seeded and can be found at the highest levels of the tech world. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s words in 2014 are a case in point when he said “Women shouldn’t ask for raises.”
Not only do women struggle to advance in large tech companies, but they also are disadvantaged in tech startups. In 2014, MIT and Harvard Business School conducted a study examining if there was a discrepancy in male vs. female ability to secure investment. Researchers took a slide deck and showed it to two sets of investors. For one group, the slides were read with a male voice-over and for another group, the slides were read with a female voiceover. Other than the different voices, the content was exactly the same. Investors who listened to the presentation with the male voiceover were 66% more likely to invest in the company. Evidence of discrimination is not limited just to academic studies. At TechCrunch 50, which has been deemed “the Sundance for startups,” Marissa Mayer from Google was the only female member of the 20 judge panel. Additionally, of the 50 start-ups selected to present, only two had female founders.
Organizations Giving Women Skills and Opportunities
Fortunately, there are a few organizations that are working to promote female advancement in the tech industry.
Girls in Tech
Girls in Tech seeks to educate and stand up for women who are involved in the technology field. It boasts more than 50,000 members and has 60 different chapters around the globe. Women are taught how to deal with discrimination and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. Girls In Tech hosts a series of seminars, workshops, and competitions to encourage female advancement. AMPLIFY is a competition for startups owned by female entrepreneurs. Women present to world-class investors who are committed to fostering a more balanced tech workforce. Girls in Tech also hosts The Catalyst Conference, Bootcamps, Global Classrooms, Mentorship Opportunities, and Hacking for Humanity.
Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code provides training and inspiration for girls 18 and under who are interested in coding. There are also programs for GWC alumni in college. Girls Who Code offers summer courses, summer immersion programs, and clubs. GWC is also an advocacy group. Recently, the state of Colorado passed a bill drafted in partnership with Girls Who Code, which created a computer science grant program that was designed to close the tech gender gap in Colorado.
Global Invest Her
Global Invest Her was started by Anna Ravanona to encourage investment in female start-ups. According to Ravanona, women are 70% less likely to receive funding for a start-up, just because of their gender. Additionally, Ravanona noticed that only 5% of venture capital was going to female led businesses even though research showed that female led technology firms had 35% higher return on investment and 12% higher revenue than male led venture capital funds. In Ravanona’s eyes, these issues stem from unconscious bias that affects both males and females. Many women are actually biased against themselves, because they lack self-confidence. Global Invest Her works to mitigate these problems by educating women on how to succeed and speaking with investors about the importance of gender diversity in investment.
Research showed that female led technology firms had 35% higher return on investment and 12% higher revenue than male led venture capital funds.
Charles Baudelaire said, “Nothing can be done except little by little.” While we can’t control norms at Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, we can make a difference through our own companies. Let’s strive to create businesses committed to doing their part to promote equality in the workplace. No matter how large a platform grows, it should always seek to promote the advancement of employees regardless of race, gender, or creed. At The Jump, we support the work of the aforementioned organizations and others who fight for equality in the workplace.