The Future of Women in a Digital World
I see the world as a landscape of opportunity, and it’s so revitalizing to see so many women embracing this attitude as well - especially in the tech world. Boosting female representation in technology has been a high priority for the past decade, and it makes me smile. There has been an industry-wide push, gender pay gap reporting, TED talks, campaigns to encourage girls to get into STEM studies at schools, and more. The world is changing quickly, and I think digital is enabling women to be good at everything - and this includes working in technology, sales, and marketing. Let’s look at what it means to be a woman in software today and what the future has in store.
The Status Quo
It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in tech. In the United States, only half of all tech startups surveyed by Silicon Valley Bank have women in leadership roles. Part of this stems from gender inequality across society.
Many factors contribute to the gender imbalance in technology but having more inclusive school and work cultures and a more attractive image of women in tech careers are the key ways we can tip the scales. The economic incentive to get more women in leadership positions in tech is also powerful. Achieving gender equality in STEM education could add up to 1.2 million jobs by the year 2050.
The Importance of Women in Technology
Women need technology for the same reason as men: to develop marketable skills, enhance their economic opportunities, participate in informed decision-making, network, promote themselves and advance their careers. Digital offers women a way to participate in the modern world as equals.
Technology is a fantastic opportunity for women to use their proven technical skills. Many initiatives support women’s empowerment through tech and digital networks that play an essential role in expanding women’s careers. Women coding, using a digital expression such as blogging with sellarketing.com, understanding the technicalities of digital sales and marketing - all of this offers great potential for advancement in careers and for women in society at large!
Many younger women aren’t aware of how they can embrace a STEM education - and even those drawn to tech aren’t always sure that a digital career aligns with their long-term goals. A Microsoft study indicated that 72% of girls want a career that positively impacts the world, but only 37% think that tech careers can improve the world. It’s not that women are uninterested in STEM— they just don’t see where it can take them.
Having had the recent opportunity to volunteer with Project Scientist, my situational fluency in STEM is compelling me to take a more thought provoked approach to help technology careers become more inclusive.
Closing the Gender Gap
As technology is increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives, the ability to use digital tech is now an essential competency. Almost 90% of future jobs require digital skills. As a woman in technology, obtaining those skills can open up countless opportunities!
The digital skills gender gap can be closed by having more women and girls embrace digital skills. Now that digital skills are built into many national education programs, women can seek out more comprehensive education.
Nancy Conrad, the founder of The Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, is one of many women leading the charge. Her movement encourages students between ages of 13 and 18 to collaborate and find innovative tech solutions to world problems - and more than half of the participants are girls. Conrad says that women “love to have an impact on society. Women are incredibly talented at visioning and understanding how the dots connect. We tend to think of circles rather than linear ways. I believe that type of thinking is baked into our DNA.”
What Does the Future Hold?
The paradigm of the tech industry is changing to support more opportunities and careers for women. Many major players in the tech world have begun taking matters into their own hands. Software giant Intuit implemented a company effort to attract and retain qualified women for technical positions. Business and digital strategy consulting firm Accenture set the bold goal to achieve a gender-balanced workforce by 2050. They already have a board of directors that is 42% female. Makers Academy, a coding Bootcamp, engages in extensive efforts to recruit promising female engineers and increase the number of women coding professionals. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, HubSpot, Nestle, Pfizer, and Prudential are investing more and more in gender equity initiatives.
Quite simply, the future is looking bright for women in tech! But it's up to all of us to keep on pushing the trajectory. The digital world urgently needs more women's perspectives, skills, curiosity, and ideas to design a more equal future. Women can embrace a whole new realm of opportunity and possibility by taking the road less traveled into technology. For women looking to take the next step - it's time to go for it!