Tag Archives: gender gap

Role models and flexible hours: 4 things a survey of 1,500 professionals taught us about getting women into tech

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More role models and flexibility. That’s the key to getting more women into tech careers, based on a fresh survey of over 1,500 women working in STEM.

The women were asked what the biggest career challenge was they faced as a woman working in a male-dominated environment.

Women make up just 24 per cent of the STEM workforce, according to US census data. And dismayingly, several fields are only becoming more unequal with time, not less. The proportion of female computer science undergrads in 2011 was less than half of what it was in the early eighties.

Clearly, this is an environment that poses unique challenges – here are four key takeaways from the results of the survey, conducted by Women Who Code and Pluralsight.

1. Women need a confidence boost

Women report a ‘pervasive lack of confidence in navigating a male-dominated workplace’ according to the survey.

Nearly two in three,  64 per cent, reported a lack of confidence is holding them back in their career.

And those in leadership positions struggle especially with this, as 19 per cent reported that the male domination of their work environment is holding them back, more than twice the average rate of respondents.

2. Wanted: Mentors and role models

The key to tackling the lack of confidence is clear based on this survey: Women need more female role models to look up to.

Over 60 per cent of those surveyed agreed that having more women on their team would be beneficial.

3. Who’s getting the promotions?

Are men more likely to get promotes? Nearly half of respondents aged 21-49 believed their male coworkers were more likely to get promoted over them.

Indeed, the lack of opportunities for advancement was listed as the biggest career hurdle among women surveyed.

4. Flexibility is key

Flexible work hours are the number one thing needed to get more women working in tech careers, according to this survey.

No less than 1 in 4 of those surveyed agreed that flexibility is the most helpful factor for getting more women into tech, over other factors like mentors and quotas.

What do you think would get more women into tech? Comment or tweet us @ProjectAda_!

Where are all the female speakers in STEM? IP Expo Manchester has more speakers named David than women

Photo: Flickr/Ignite New Zealand

Women are grossly underrepresented as speakers at tech conferences, and IP Expo Manchester, opening today in Manchester, is no exception, as a Project Ada analysis reveals it has just seven per cent female speakers.

The problem is a familiar one: women are missing not just from the industry, but on stage. Even when an event’s audience is more equally split between genders, among keynote speakers and panelists women can still be hard to find, and all-male panels still all too common.

At IP Expo Manchester, held 18-19 May, just three of the 43 speakers advertised on the website are women. A whole 92.5 per cent of the speakers are male.

In fact, there are more Davids among the event’s speakers than there are women, as we found that four of the promoted speakers are named David – and just three are women.

Proportion of male and female speakers at IP EXPO

IP Expo Manchester’s organisers tell Project Ada they’d love to see more female keynote speakers and panelists:

“It is one of our main aims, that we remain focused on attracting the thought leaders in the field, irrespective of gender but would certainly like to see a bigger representation from the talented women in technology,” said a spokesperson for the event.

This year speakers include Dr Sue Black and Dame Stella Rimington.

This isn’t just a problem for IP Expo. “Where are the women speakers?” is a question that’s been asked time and again. It’s a vicious circle, of course: with a lack of women in the industry leading to a lack of women on stage – damaging women’s career prospects.

But women are underrepresented even when taking into account their smaller numbers in STEM industries. And not all the blame can be laid at organisers’ feet: Women, it seems, are more likely to say no, when asked.

In 2013, researchers from the University of Sheffield found 50 per cent of female biologists turned down an invitation to speak, against just 26% of men.

IP Expo Manchester’s spokesperson confirmed this has been a difficulty:

We’ve worked really hard to promote gender equality on our keynote programmes, however, despite approaching a huge selection of relevant, qualified female speakers it is really difficult to get commitment.

So is there a good way of solving the problem? One study suggests that an effective way of increasing female speakers is actually quite simple: make sure there is at least one woman organising the event.

One woman makes all the difference, according to researchers at Yale University and Yeshiva University, who found that having one or more women involved in organizing scientific conference increased the proportion of female speakers by 72 per cent.

The tech jobs with the highest gender pay gap in the UK

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As odd as it can be, women and men are not paid equally.

In the UK’s tech industry, female workers earn less than their male colleagues in all jobs, from computer programming to data processing.

According to the ONS’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, women’s salaries can be as much as 37 per cent less than men’s.

In the graphic below, it’s possible to see the salary gender gap in seven jobs in the UK tech industry.

The highest gap is seen in the role “data processing and web portals”. While male workers earn £726 per week, women are paid much less, at £457.

Even in computer programming, where the payment difference is the smallest among the jobs analysed, female programmers still make 22 per cent less than men. Women earn £534.70 per week, while men get £689.90.

The graphic below shows that there is no equality in salaries in any job considered in the analysis. Other roles in the survey, such as software designing and computer games, couldn’t be analysed as there was no sufficient data about women’s earnings.

ChartSalaryGap

“Raise awareness”

Earlier this month, the group Girls in Tech launched a campaign to bring awareness to the gender pay gap in the tech industry.

The campaign is a response to the recent comments by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said during an interview in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference that women should rather trust the system than ask for a raise.

Girls in Tech campaign promises to raise the gender wage gap with companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM, PayPal and others.

Kate Brodock, Girls in Tech president, said:

“By teaching employees how to effectively ask for a raise and creating a system that supports that, we hope to empower those women that are currently hesitant to ask for a raise, and gain productive partners in the participating companies.”

Featured image: credit to European Union 2015 – European Parliament

The biggest problems with #TechSexism – here’s what you said

Wikimedia hackathon

The tech industry is struggling to overcome its problems with sexism in the workplace – both cultural and structural. Women are hugely underrepresented in all technical jobs, and a recent survey by The Guardian showed that 73 per cent of the people working in tech consider sexism to be a problem.

We asked you to share your experiences of sexism with us: What are the biggest issues? Here’s what you said, on the hashtag #TechSexism.

1. The sexist culture

Misogynistic jokes and not being taken seriously are both an unsurprising but unwelcome side effect of an industry with such a skewed gender balance. @blackgirltech described the cultural sexism as a problem:

The effects of a male-dominated workplace have been described by many of the women we’ve interviewed on Project Ada. City University lecturer Dr Simone Stumpf mentioned a brogramming culture she described as “casually misogynistic”.

Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons described something similar when we interviewed her in November.

“People still say to me ‘women’s brains don’t really work that way’. It happens every week. I won’t stop until I never hear that phrase again.”

2. The pay gap

One of our readers wanted us to highlight the gaping difference between men and women’s salaries.

And no wonder.

Here’s a bit of structural sexism that’s hard to ignore. Women in technical jobs only earn 73% of what their male colleagues earn, according to US organisation Narrow the Gapp.

3. Sexist and gendered products

Another reader called out needlessly gendered products. Especially when they’re also casually sexist.

Microsoft’s smart bra is supposed to prevent stress-related over-eating by detecting stress levels. (What they want male stress eaters to do is unclear).

This is the latest in a never-ending line of frankly incredible products. From Bic’s slimmer pens “for her” (finally, a pen my teeny tiny lady hands can grasp!) to extra feminine ear plugs or girls’ Lego (for an early start in gendering). Lady Geek, who campaign against this type of gendering, call this the “pink it shrink it” approach.

Thoughts? How do you think sexism affects the tech industry? Continue the conversation on #TechSexism!

A male entrepreneur asks: where are all the women in tech?

GirlsinCoding

It was with genuine interest that a male entrepreneur asked a panel of women in tech, “Where are the female talents in the IT industry?”

The question, asked by someone from the audience during the Girls in Coding event this Thursday, opened the debate about the lack of female applicants in tech jobs and about what companies can do to attract more women.

“I get the diversity speech, but how to get more female tech talent?”, asked the entrepreneur from the audience. “CVs from women are not getting through the door.”

In response Amali de Alwis, CEO from Code First: Girls, a social enterprise that teaches coding for free to young women, said that “a lot can be done by tech companies to get more female applicants. There is work to be done. How are you advertising your jobs? A conscious change is necessary,” she said.

Alexa Glick, global diversity program manager at Microsoft, added:

“How is your job described? Words are so important. Research shows that women look at every skill necessary before applying for a job, while men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. If you say that the successful candidate will need to be ‘100% for the job’, this might scare women, because they might have a family and won’t be able to dedicate 100% of their time.”

The entrepreneur observed that it was fine to attract women to his company’s business area and that the challenge was to get female developers. “In my business area we have a good gender balance, but if you ask me how many women developers are in my company, I say zero.”

The CEO from Code First: Girls noted that the companies also have the responsibility of training people.

“The role of companies is not just to hire the best talents, but also make the right talent.”

The entrepreneur’s question about where are the women in tech is a crucial one. The number of women studying computer science in the UK is dropping: in 2011, only 17.6% of computer science undergraduates were women. The number is less than half of what it was in 1983/4 – when 37.1% of undergrads were women.

Consequently, less women are entering the tech workforce. An analysis by Project Ada has showed that less than one in five UK top tech bosses are women.

Campaign

Getting more women in the tech world is seen as crucial for the future of the industry, said Sinead Bunting, Marketing Director UK and Ireland from Monster, a recruiter company.

“Recently Martha Lane-Fox said if the internet is for everybody it should reflect that and be built by everyone. But at the moment 98% of the code relied upon by the internet and web technologies is programmed by men,” said Bunting. “We need different people to build apps that will reflect the diversity of the world.”

Earlier this month, Monster launched the Girls in Coding campaign to raise awareness to the issue.

Here is a video of the campaign featuring different initiatives in the UK to get more women into tech:

UK has one of the world’s largest gender gaps in science

map of europe gender gap in science education

The UK is failing to give British girls adequate education to compete against their male counterparts in science, according to new research.

A new OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report, which measures the performance of 15-year-olds, shows that the UK has one of the largest gender gaps in the world.

The gap between UK girls’ and boys’ results in science tests is 13 – with boys scoring a mean of 521 and compared to girls’ 508. This is compared with an average gap of just one across the 67 countries that took part in the tests.

The UK falls into the bottom five countries that took part in the Pisa tests – alongside Costa Rica and just above Colombia.

Where boys beat girls by the most

worst countries for gender gap in science education

In some countries, girls’ science results were higher than their male counterparts, providing hope for increased gender equality.

Jordan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates were at the top of the rankings – with a score difference of 43, 35 and 28 respectively. In Jordan, where girls beat boys by the highest margin, boys scored an average of 388 in Jordan. Girls, however, achieved 430.

Where girls beat boys by the most

best countries for gender gap in science education

Several countries achieved gender neutral results, where boys and girls scored similarly.

Girls beat boys by a mean of one in Macau, Uruguay, Israel, Singapore and Germany. Czech Republic, Chinese Taipei, Tunisia and Vietnam were similarly close, with boys performing slightly better than girls – by a single point.

“Not determined by innate differences in ability”

The results have raised concerns among experts that the education system is failing to provide girls with the training and support needed for future careers in science and technology industries.

Pisa has found that, in general, girls have higher expectations for their careers than boys; but on average, less than 5 per cent of girls contemplate pursuing a career in engineering and computing. In virtually all countries, the number of boys thinking of a career in computing or engineering exceeds the number of girls contemplating such a career.

In some of the top-performing countries and economies, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, girls perform on a par with their male classmates in mathematics and attain higher scores than all boys in most other countries around the world.

The organisation said of the findings:

These results strongly suggest that gender gaps in school performance are not determined by innate differences in ability. A concerted effort by parents, teachers, policy makers and opinion leaders is needed if both boys and girls are to be able to realise their full potential and contribute to the economic growth and well-being of their societies.

Less than 1 in 5 of UK top tech bosses are women

Canary Wharf | Photo: S nova

Top jobs in the UK’s technology firms are dominated by men, with over four times more men than women on their executive boards.

Just 18.3% of the board members on UK’s TECHmark companies are women, compared to 81.7% men, according to our analysis. Among FTSE 100 companies, 22.8% are women.

The TECHmark is a specific part of the London Stock Exchange for “specialist segments of the Main Market focusing on innovative technology”.

According to Bloomberg’s profile pages for the 60 companies, their boards have at least 533 men and 119 women on them. One fifth of the companies have no female board members at all.

This means that tech companies are performing worse than FTSE 100 companies.

A government report revealed that women’s representation on FTSE 100 boards was 22.8%. There are no male-only boards in the FTSE 100.

When announcing the report, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

British businesses must keep up the momentum and alarm bells should be ringing in the ears of those FTSE chairs who are not yet doing their bit to improve gender diversity.

13 of the 60 TECHmark companies had no female representation on their executive boards, including Triad BiomedicaGresham Computing and Oxford Biomedica.

Phoenix IT performed the best for female representation on its board, with a third of its bosses being women. BTG is next – with women comprising of 28.5% of its board.

Female representation on executive board

How altruism can help to get more women in STEM

NigeriaGirlsRIGHT

Altruism can play a role in making science, technology, engineering and mathematics more accessible to women.

Anne-Marie Imafidon, assistant vice-president at Deutsche Bank and founder of Stemettes, an organization to inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM areas, points out that, besides creativity, it is key to show women they are able to solve problems by using technology.

Imafidon says women can be great problem-solvers when empowered by STEM knowledge.

To make her point, the executive mentions initiatives such as the group of four girls in Nigeria that created a machine to convert urine into electricity and the three Irish girls who developed a project to tackle the global food crisis.

Listen to the Stemettes’ founder talking about the topic:

When asked why the tech industry should be aware of the gender gap, she says that all industries would benefit from having a more diverse workforce.

“We have big problems. And no offense, while the guys are chasing billions by making apps, you have to have someone who is actually using the great technology that we have to solve the problems we have, whether they are hunger, illiteracy or infrastructure.”

Listen to her talking about gender equality here:

More from this article

If you would like to know about the examples Imafidon mentioned in her interview, here are the links:

Meet the 11-year-old inventor of the ‘unbreakable cup

This woman invented a way to run 30 lab tests on only one drop of blood

Featured image: Nigeria girls that created a machine to convert urine into electricity. Credit to Erik Hersman

What happens in a workplace with almost only men?

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What’s it like to have almost only male colleagues? As in the rest of the tech industry, there are very few female academics in computer science.

To find out what that does to a workplace, we spoke to Dr Simone Stumpf about her experiences. She told us the gender balance is certainly something she is ‘aware of’.

Dr Stumpf works at the computer science department at City University London. A scrape of the university website showed that only 7 of the 41 academics in that department were female. That’s 17%. The other 34, including the head of the department, are male.

“17% is actually relatively high”

This is lower even than several major tech companies, but nothing unusual for the world of STEM in academia.

“You could look at it the other way around, and look at the usual intake into computing,” argued Dr Stumpf.

“17% is actually relatively high, ironically, because the female intake among undergraduates who go on to a Ph D is actually quite appalling. Nationally, not just here,” she said.

The undergraduate intake into computer science hovers just over 17%, but declines further at a postgraduate level.

“Casually misogynistic” programming culture

When we asked about the work environment in the programming world outside academia, Dr Stumpf brought up the casually misogynistic ‘brogrammer culture’ which leaves women excluded.

The idea of programmers having to go into a darkened room and refuse to emerge for days on end is still prevalent, according to Dr Stumpf.

“And programming is something that you can’t just dip into and dip out when the muse kisses you. You have to dedicate some time to understanding the code, so you have to have a sustained effort,” she said, adding:

“But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend 24 hours living on beer and pizza.”

“Have to take the fear away”

Dr Stumpf was inspired to go into computer science early on, as she sat in her school computer lab programming in Basic back in the 80s, and says that it was the problem-solving that attracted her to it from the start.

“It was that sense that I could get things to work, figure out what to do about it, and then solve that problem using a computer program.”

She believes society is still dissuading women from choosing this field, and that we need to change our attitudes. When we asked her how this could change, she said that a lot of it is about ‘taking the fear away’.

(Photo of Dreamhack 2012 by Kelly Kline/Flickr.)

The gender gap in tech – in 3 charts

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Next time someone questions whether tech really has a gender problem, you can always refer them to this post. (Don’t worry, we’ve even got pedagogical and colourful charts to lighten the mood!)

1) Less than 2 in 10 tech giant employees are women

Google released a diversity report a couple of months ago, and Facebook, Apple, Twitter and a whole lot of other tech companies swiftly followed suit. The results neatly expose tech’s gender gap.

On average, something like 7 in 10 employees at these tech giants are men. But if we break it down further, and look at technical roles specifically, the figures are even more dismaying.

Google puts it pretty simply in its report.

“We’re not where we want to be when it comes to diversity. And it is hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.”

No arguing with that.

2) Female coders “work for free” from mid-November

A female computer programmer in the UK earns 87 pence for every pound her male colleagues earns, newly released statistics from the ONS show.

That adds up to close to £2,000 every year, and translates to women coding for free from Nov 13 through to the end of the year. This chart shows female coders’ salaries as a percentage of their male colleagues’.


Things are even more dismal across the Atlantic, where US women in technical jobs are earning only 73% of what their male colleagues do, according to Narrow the Gapp.

3) One in five top STEM companies had no women on their boards

It’s no surprise that executive boards are not the most gender balanced of places. But did you know that STEM (that is, science and tech) companies are even worse off?

Across the board, FTSE companies have 17% female board directors. Dismal enough. STEM companies, however, have only 13%, the FTSE Female Report 2012 showed.

One in five top STEM companies didn’t have a single woman on their boards, meaning that they’re literally recruiting their leaders from only 50% of the workforce. (In other industries, all of the top companies had at least one woman on the board.)

Anything else?

Should we have highlighted something else? How would you summarize tech’s gender problem in a few key points? Please comment or tweet us @ProjectAda_.