The Future of Work is Women In Tech
The Future of Work series is sponsored by Salesforce.
The future of work is women—specifically, it’s women in technology.
Unfortunately, the numbers do not reflect that yet. While women make up more than 50 percent of the workforce in the United States, women only achieve about 20 percent of representation in the technology sector.
Powerhouse technology companies like Salesforce and Intuit are currently taking steps to hire more women. Salesforce, in particular, took steps to order an internal review of over 17,000 employees and spent an extra $3 million on payroll in order to close the gender representation and pay gap. As a result, women at Salesforce make up 33 percent of their global employees.
The road to equality isn’t an easy one—but companies like Salesforce are implementing real, meaningful change for the future of women and their representation in technology.
There are many factors feeding into the low representation of women in the technology industry. For starters, girls are discouraged from pursuing STEM at a young age. According to several studies, young girls often express an interest in STEM around age 11. By age 15, many have lost interest entirely. Factors contributing to this drop off include
- Lack of female mentors
- No hands-on experience or projects focused on girls
- Gender inequality in STEM jobs
That’s not to say that no women pursue STEM. It’s simply that it’s hard to find someone to look up to; someone for a young girl to seek mentorship from, to emulate, or to simply point to and say “I want to be just like her.”
So why women in tech?
Why Women in Tech matter
Researchers have concluded that boosting the number of women in STEM fields would drastically increase our nation’s pool of talented workers.
In addition—and this is so important—higher female representation in technology will bring an entirely new dimension to the entire scope of the work. This allows for entirely new breakthroughs on problems that have been previously overlooked.
There have been decades of research pointing to the fact that diversity makes us smarter. In order to solve a complex problem, it is better to bring different individuals with different backgrounds to the problem. In this way, all of these people can work together to present different viewpoints and actually solve the problem.
In addition to problem-solving, diversity fosters innovation. Suddenly, when teams of employees are not faced with the same recurring problems, they have the time to innovate new ideas.
Aside from potential breakthroughs in math and science, there is a huge cultural shift that happens when more females are being represented.
For example, there is this age-old “belief” that girls excel in language arts and social studies while boys excel in math and science. Sound familiar? Imagine (or, if you’re like me, remember) being a young girl in an algebra class and being told that over and over again. You might start to believe that, although you are a pro with the quadratic equation, this is a boy’s field. For these very reasons, girls are repeatedly discouraged from pursuing continued education in maths and science.
This bias, whether or not unconscious, continues to the college and university level. Admissions emphasize rewarding students with existing experience and expertise rather than encouraging exploration in math and science fields. For a young woman looking to expand her skill set gained from an already problematic school system, this is often the final blow to her pursuit of math and science.
We need more women in technology to empower the next wave, and the next—and the one after that.
How to Get Involved
If you are a woman in tech and you are reading this, first of all, you’re amazing. Second of all, please mentor young women. I know it's a pain to put the onus on ourselves, but we can make a change by sharing our stories, by reaching out to other young women, and by simply getting involved.
Breaking long-held stereotypes, like the one that girls aren’t “good” at math or science, isn’t something that happens overnight. Fighting these kinds of stereotypes means highlighting successes of the women who are excelling in the technology industry.
If seeing some of these abysmal women in technology numbers bums you out, look up to some of the women out there who are doing it. We do our best to profile women who are breaking the glass ceiling in technology (and out in the world.)
Read these stories. Share these stories. If you have a daughter, a niece, or a granddaughter, tell her these stories. Make sure she knows she can do anything.
The more visibility real women in technology get in the world, the higher the chance is that a young girl will come across it and find life-altering inspiration.
Are you a hopeful woman in tech?
If you are reading this because you want to dive into a technology career, that’s great. We are so excited for you to make a difference.
Our first tip to you would be to erase everything anybody has ever told you about pursuing a career in technology. If this is something you want to do, you can (and will) do it.
Gather your experiences, no matter what field you worked in and no matter how limited your experience may seem, at this moment.
Everything is translatable. Gather your sets of soft skills and hard skills. Make a plan for things you might want to learn. Maybe you want to take a course from Women Who Code in order to amp up your C++ skills.
Build yourself a plan. If you have a dream job, learn the skills you need to achieve it. If there is a dream company you want to work for, consider entry-level positions for which you could apply. If you already work in technology but you want to expand your skills and transition, make your case.
No matter what your approach is, go after it. Use your great ideas to sell yourself in a job interview, a presentation, or even a cold email to a potential employer.
Do you want to play a role in the future of work? Check out open roles at Salesforce and learn all about their awesome company culture here.
The Future of Work series is sponsored by Salesforce.