Computer Weekly and Mortimer Spinks have just released their fourth annual women in technology survey. This year 4,146 technology professionals took part, with a 50% increase in the contributions from women. This is pretty awesome considering the female participation in the tech industry is between 12-15%.
The 2015 Women in Technology report suggested we focus on 10 key statistics:
Image Source: 2015 Women In Technology Survey - Computer Weekly / Mortimer Spinks
But what do these statistics really mean?
The percentage of women in technology teams is still way too low
The average number of women in technology teams has gone up from 12% to 14% this year (returing to the number we saw in 2013). It’s hard to tell what these relatively minor fluctuations actually indicate about the market so I’d hold off popping the champagne for now. We still have a lot of work to do in order to see a consistent increase over several years.
People like working in technology!
For four years the question “Are you happy to have a career in technology?”, has seen a very positive response with a resounding 95% saying they are happy to be working in technology. According to this survey, women are enjoying their tech careers just as much as men and both sexes reported high job satisfaction. The survey also indicates that women are enjoying their tech careers just as much as men and, in both cases, job satisfaction is extremely high.
This doesn’t mean the hard graft is over, although it might suggest we should change the tune of our messages to the outer world about what it’s like to work in technology if you’re a woman. If the culture is indeed becoming more amenable to women, we should promote working in technology and emphasize the benefits that a career in technology provides both men and women in order to change the perception of working in tech.
Should more women in tech explore the idea of contract work?
Women are much less likely to choose a career in contracting than men (25% versus 34%). The report estimates that only one in ten contractors is female.
But why is this the case? Contracting offers more flexibility in hours and sometimes the ability to work from home, as well the ability to take time off from work to travel and spend time with family. Job flexibility is one of the key reasons why women find it hard (or unappealing) to get back into work after taking time off to raise young children. Wouldn’t this be a natural solution?
One thing to consider is at what point in their career women in technology pursue contract work and/or choose to have children. As Nicci Abernethy, our Head of Learning & Development, explained in a recent interview:
“If your career is a high priority and you definitely want to return to work after maternity leave, you might want to wait until you are more established in your field and have built up your credibility…You must remember that if you want to become a working mum (and your partner is working too) you’ll have to pay for childcare, which is a lot! The main reason why women don’t go back to work is not because they don’t want to; it’s because they can’t afford to come back because of the cost of childcare.”
Although contract work pays well and offers more flexibility, women may want to wait until they are fairly well established before going down this route.
You don’t need a technical degree to get into technology (and go far)
The 2015 Women in Technology report does an excellent job demonstrating that pursuing a non-technical degree at uni has no apparent effect on your ability to break into the tech world, although it may show where in technology you are likely to end up. Those who studied the Arts or Languages are more likely to pursue design; those who studied one of the Social Sciences may end up in a role similar to project management or business analysis; and STEM graduates are most likely to pursue a career in software engineering.
The report also indicated that the average number of jobs current technologists had before entering the tech world was 2.2, so you certainly don’t have to start working in technology right out of college to pursue a career in technology.
Relevant: How To Break Into The Tech Industry
Interestingly, your degree won’t affect your ability to progress either. You’re equally as likely to be a director, VP or C-level technology professional regardless of what area of technology you come from.
The need for open conversation is still critical
If 45% of respondents believe they have never engaged in or overheard a conversation about diversity in tech and there hasn’t been any improvement over the last 12 months we have a bit of a problem. If people aren’t talking about the problems in the industry, how are things going to get better?
The data isn’t that bleak though, don’t worry. Analysing the figures suggests that that 22% of the industry is talking about (or hearing conversations about) women in technology on a weekly basis, and 16% of the industry are aware of formal initiatives within their business to promote women into technology roles.
A google search of “women in technology” brings "about 1,120,000,000 results" which includes blogs, videos, slide shares, reports and events. But how do we translate this into serious conversations within the workplace about how we can craft a more diverse and empowered tech community?
Of course, we'd like to offer our thanks to Computer Weekly and Mortimer Spinks for producing this report, which you can download by clicking here.
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