Career Advice

Lack of Women in Tech is Hindering Industry Growth
Chandra Lye posted on April 10, 2017 | 2835 views

A recent survey discusses some of the ways women who work in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields face tough barriers to their work and advancement.

According to respondents to an industry-wide Women in Technology Survey conducted by international non-profit technology association ISACA, 48 percent of women said the lack of mentors in their field has dissuaded them from a career in technology, while 42 percent cited the lack of female role models as a problem.

Furthermore, 39 percent of women indicated they felt a gender bias in the workplace, which hindered their ability to work in the field. Part of the bias was demonstrated in the indication that men and women experience unequal growth opportunities and unequal pay in the industry. 

Of those surveyed, 43 percent reported male colleagues were paid more for no cited reason. Only 23 percent or the survey respondents reported that men and women were paid equally.  Those who reported a pay disparity included 25 percent from Africa, 29 percent from Asia, 53 percent from Europe and 42 percent from North America.

Jo Stewart-Rattray, board director of ISACA and director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich, said the concerns expressed in the survey have become a significant problem as it is leading to a shortage of skilled workers in the engineering and technology fields.

“ISACA’s survey findings reinforce that there is much work left to be done. By providing more opportunities, including career advancement programs, we can make long overdue progress in ensuring that women are more equitably represented in the technology workforce,” Rattray said.

The survey was conducted in response to global executives’ concerns about a skilled worker shortage in the tech industry. ISACA said that by having the problems identified by those in the industry, employers will be better able to repair them.

Another concern expressed by three-quarters of the respondents was the lack of gender leadership programs in the workplaces. As well, just eight percent of survey participants indicated they did not feel a gender bias in their workplace.

Tara Wisniewski, ISACA’s managing director of advocacy and public affairs, said that things needed to change and ISACA feels responsible for making those changes happen. “As an industry, we must commit to changing these numbers and breaking down the barriers for women in technology.”

As part of that change, ISACA has developed a program that helps women find networking opportunities and connects them to other women in their tech field. The Connecting Women Leaders in Technology program began in 2015.

Some of the additional opportunities that ISACA has planned for this year include webinars, as well as in-person networking events in Las Vegas and Germany.

The survey data was gathered via online polling among the organization’s members. About 500 participants took part in the survey, which was conducted in November 2016.

To learn more, the full research is published in a report called Breaking Down Gender Barriers to Build the Future Tech Workforce.

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