Girls and Women in STEM: the gap begins at school

15 de octubre de 2018

Por Juan Manuel Pico – CoFounder Education Soul

Publicado en:

Two facts:

1)  The Tech World remains a Man´s World

2)  Females are less likely than males to consider a technology career

The Tech World is dominated by men

Based on tech companies´ diversity reports, Statista-the german portal for statistics- published a chart in may 2018, showing the percentage of female employees in the workforce of 8 giant tech companies in terms of Tech jobs, Leadership jobs and Total Workforce.

Female employees represent between 26% (Microsoft) and 43% (Netflix) of the Total Workforce, with the percentage going even lower in the case of Tech jobs, going from 15% (Uber) to 28% (Netflix), not even a third of the Tech jobs total. In terms of Leadership jobs, the percentage of females matches, and exceeds in some cases, the average of 25% in S&P 500 companies. There is still room for improvement to increase the percentage of female Tech jobs, and get percentages of 50% and up. Below is the chart.

Women in technology careers: the gap begins at school

In 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted the study “Women in Technology” in UK, involving 2,176 students (1,102 females and 1,074 males). Three key findings:

1-Girls are less likely to study STEM topics at school and the gap remains at university

2-Females are less likely than males to pursue a technology career 

Figure 1 shows that 27% of females would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. A pipeline problem:

3-Shortage of female role model as a barrier

66% of respondents were able to name a famous man working in technology, while only 22% could give a name of a famous female within the tech world, a shortage of female role models who have been successful in technology.

Call to action:

PwC study proposes 4 ways to address the challenge:

1-A greater role in tech education from the technology industry, showing the reason why technology can shape the world we live in:

  • More interaction with technology companies at school levels to grow the pipeline of technology talent
  • Inspire and educate students at younger ages to learn the skills needed for STEM careers

2-More access to technology careers, where technology companies should provide work experiences opportunities at younger ages

3-Visible female tech role models

4-Help women to get their potential in the tech industry by

  • organizing initiatives to promote women to advance to more senior positions 
  • sponsoring programmes for high performing females

Take away

Besides what is happening with females leading the way in the big Tech companies and beyond a UK study on females in Tech careers, globally the relationship between females and STEM remains the same. An UNESCO publication in 2017 –“Cracking the Code: Girl´s and Women´s Education in STEM” showed that only 3% of ICT graduates worldwide are women, making IT the area with the greatest gender divide in STEM; 30% of female students worldwide choose STEM-related fields of study; 1/3 of students´social media shares about women and girls in STEM were sexist – most were shared by girls themselves (Latin America Study); and 35% of students enrolled in STEM in higher education globally are women.

In addition, The World Economic Forum in 2017 published the study “Women in tech gender parity” and found that of 100 female bachelor students, 12 graduates with a STEM major but only 3 continues to work in STEM fields 10 years after graduation.

There is in fact an underrepresentation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at a global scale. Studies and research from different organizations in the planet are aligned with different possible solutions. At the center there is one that , we as a society, need to put all our efforts: STEM needs to begin at an early stage in life, thats means more public policies devoted to promote STEM classes since kindergarten, more relationships between the tech companies and the school systems to increase the pipeline of Tech girls (bringing work experiences opportunities for high performing females), and more visible female tech role models to increase a culture of STEM as something that is cool for girls and women as it is today for boys and men in a scale of 70%. STEM for all!