As the technology industry has grown and become arguably the most lucrative industry of the 21st century, it’s troubling to see how its diversity has not grown with it. The industry started as relatively white-male-dominated, and as we saw in our piece on Black talent in tech last month, continues to be so. As you might imagine, women face similar but unique challenges when it comes to breaking into and staying in the technology and information field. Here we’ll explore some of these issues, and how hiring managers can leverage AI to help boost representation in the field.
According to Talenya’s AI, technology currently has the 3rd-lowest rate of women participation, in both participation and managers, of any industry; it is followed only by defense and manufacturing. Women make up more than half of the American labor force, but only 27.25% of tech industry workers are women, and only 22.14% are managers. It’s also not clear that the numbers are going up—in fact, representation of women in tech might actually be declining. On a historical scale, this trend isn’t surprising: technology is currently an incredibly profitable field, and historically women are pushed out of industries as they become more prosperous. (It’s true–100 years ago, coding was women’s work!)
Barriers to Entry
Most technology and information managers, and especially in Silicon Valley’s inner circle, are white men whose networks also consist of other white men. So as people tap their networks to recruit new talent, the people they find are often those that look like them. There are certainly many more qualified women to be found—only 38% of women with a computer science degree are currently working in the field—but they may not have the connections their male counterparts have to get them in the door.
Another barrier is the way women represent themselves on professional profiles. According to a study by Talenya, women tend to write significantly less on their public profiles than men, and list 11% fewer skills as well. But longer profiles with more skills are usually viewed more frequently, and if recruiters search for specific skills women may be at a disadvantage in the search results. Even in active candidates, women are much less likely than men to apply to a role if they don’t think they meet 100% of the requirements.
In addition to challenges getting into the tech industry, women have a hard time staying there because of the numerous difficulties they face in the workplace. This is such a prevalent issue that 38% of women in tech are planning to leave their jobs in the next two years.
This is for a number of reasons. For one, 38% of women report seeing gender discrimination in their workplace and that the men in the office are treated as more competent than women. There’s also a pay gap of over 10,000 dollars a year on average between male and female employees. Many women cite the pay gap as their reason for leaving, as well as the lack of other women in their workplaces and the fact that there’s not much room for women to advance professionally.
How AI Can Help
Since women tend to write less and put fewer skills in their profiles, it’s much harder for recruiters to find them even when they do rely on online searches rather than connections. AI like Talenya’s can infer those missing skills by combing through millions of similar profiles and looking for commonalities. It can also tweak your search in small and specific ways to bring more women into the results page without sacrificing candidate quality.
Using its engagement capabilities, AI can then prompt women to apply to your roles through multiple channels when they otherwise might not have considered themselves qualified enough to apply on their own. This way, many more women end up in the interview pipeline and have the chance to enter the tech field.
Of course, much more needs to be done to make tech workplaces more inclusive and more respectful to the women who work in them, since if they leave their jobs then representation won’t get better. But one essential step to making that happen is simply to increase the number of women in any given tech office. If women see themselves represented and feel they have camaraderie in their workplace, they will be more inclined to stay. Using AI, we can begin to help make gender equality in tech a reality.