The representation of women in technology is changing, but it is still far from equivalent to that of men in the sector.
Approximately 46% of the total U.S. workforce is made up of women, and yet in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), they represent just 28% of the workforce. And recent women in tech statistics show just 25%, a number that declined between 2000 and 2016.
The technology sector is eager to attract women to the field, given the advantages they bring — diverse perspectives and innovative thinking, to name just two — but the numbers don’t lie. Here is a picture of what the women in technology scene looks like today and predictions about what is to come.
Overall Representation Of Women In The Tech Industry
The overall representation of women in tech is changing, but the pace remains slow. Furthermore, the COVID pandemic was a setback for female-identifying professionals in the sector.
In Big Tech, women are outnumbered. At Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, female employees comprise 45%, 37%, 34%, 33%, and 29% of the total workforce respectively. In terms of leadership jobs, they represent 29%, 34%, 31%, 28%, and 26% respectively. Those numbers decline even further when we focus solely on tech roles.
During the pandemic and recession, women in the tech industry were two times as likely as their male counterparts to be furloughed or laid off.
Large, global technology companies were expected to reach nearly 33% overall female representation in 2022 on average. This is slightly over a 2% increase from 2019.
While 42% of women in tech said they assumed more of the household work during the pandemic, only 11% of men said the same.
69% of white male founders believe the #MeToo movement has had a positive effect on businesses, and just 34% of white female founders said the same.
In the tech sector, 53% of women in engineering and IT say remote work has been positive. The percentage is considerably lower for women in sales, marketing, and customer service.
52% of women say that businesses would be better equipped to attract more women to tech jobs if they had more female role models.
72% of women in tech say they have worked at a company with a widespread “bro culture”, indicating gender discrimination At the same time, 63% of engineering and IT say they have experienced pervasive bro culture, a lower figure than women in tech working in other departments.
Education & Computer Science
Education is linked with careers and career growth for women in tech. Many believe that getting young people invested in STEM subjects from an early age, as well as focusing on helping girls and young women succeed in these fields, will encourage them to pursue technology and other STEM disciplines later on.
The percentage of women who hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science has declined in recent decades, after showing an initial increase: 13.6% in 1970, 37% in 1984, and 18% in 2021.
Girls with a higher socioeconomic status are overrepresented (19%) among top performers in mathematics relative to girls with lower socioeconomic status (3%), while boys with higher socioeconomic status are overrepresented among top performers in math and science.
16% of women say that someone or multiple people have suggested that they pursue a career in technology, compared with 33% of men.
Computer science, engineering, and physics are the only high-level mathematics and science subjects or courses that young women don’t participate in at similar rates as their male counterparts.
Marginalized girls are less likely to have women teachers in STEM subjects.
Women in Tech Leadership
Leadership is an area where the gender gap is particularly visible in tech. With more women at the top, the industry is better equipped to attract and retain female talent. On the other hand, having fewer female role models could very likely deter women from joining the tech workforce.
Just 25% of startups have a female founder, while 37% of startups have at least one woman sitting on their board of directors.
53% of startups have at least one woman in an executive role.
72% of women in tech say they are outnumbered by men in business meetings by 2:1 or more, as of 2021. Meanwhile, 26% of these women say they are outnumbered by 5:1 or more.
Many C-level executives believe we will reach gender equality in leadership by 2030, but 56% of the same executives said their companies did not have a plan in place for realizing this.
Only 5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women.
Forbes Fortune 500 companies saw a 66% increase in ROI if they had at least three women in leadership positions in 2020.
Recruitment and Hiring Practices
Research shows that the hiring process in technology — and many other industries — is fraught with discrimination and bias, both conscious and unconscious. Much of the evidence suggests that bringing more women into the technology workforce depends on an inclusive, often revamped hiring process — one that is free of the discrimination that has been so pervasive.
48% of women in STEM jobs report that they have experienced discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process.
More than half — 54% — of women say that the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to transition into the tech industry.
51% of women working in global technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) report that they feel less optimistic about their career prospects since the pandemic first began.
Meanwhile, 57% of TMT women have said that they expect to leave their current employer for a new role within two years, naming a lack of work/life balance as the biggest reason for the change.
Career Pathing and Promotions in The Technology Industry
Career pathing plays a critical role in talent retention. All professionals, regardless of demographics or background, want to see the roles they can anticipate holding in the future and what path or paths are available to them. Moreover, promotions are important for any professional’s career journey. These statistics, together, form a picture of what career pathing and promotions currently look like for women in tech.
At 39%, women in tech are four times more likely than men to believe that gender bias is an obstacle to promotion as of 2021.
66% of women say that there is no clear career path forward for them within their current organizations.
78% of women say that companies need to be promoting more women into leadership roles in order to support women in tech.
Women of color are far less confident than white women about the possibility of promotion in tech. This is a gap that has increased by three times in a single year.
78% of women say that they believe that they need to work harder than men to prove their value at work, while only 54% of men believe the same.
79% of women in tech sector said that they have experienced imposter syndrome in the workplace in 2020. Meanwhile, only 65% expressed the same sentiment.
Women were four times as likely as men to regard gender bias as an obstacle to promotions in 2021.
Overall, 62% of women expressed feeling confident that they would have the opportunity to earn a promotion within the following two years, but there is a difference between white women and women of color in this regard. Women of color were 27% less confident that they receive a promotion than white women.
Investments in Women in Tech
It is critical for philanthropic organizations, nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, individuals, and other groups to make investments in women in the technology industry, both monetarily and otherwise. This is a critical step in moving toward gender parity in the field. Partnerships, contributions, and other types of investments will be instrumental in helping women achieve greater representation and success in the space.
While female-led teams have generated a 35% higher return than teams that are led entirely by men, in 2021, only 25.3% of venture capital funding was directed to female-founded or female co-founded startups.
During a United Nations-sponsored Generation Equality Forum in Paris in 2021, world leaders, private businesses and organizations, and philanthropists pledged to commit $40 billion USD in new investments as part of the Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made a $2.1 billion USD commitment to advancing women’s leadership, economic empowerment, and reproductive health.
The initiative 500 Women has supported more than 200 women-led companies over the past four years. In 2024, it plans to invest $1 million USD across 10 women-backed companies.
While these statistics don’t present the most optimistic picture of the present and future of women in the tech sector, it’s not all bad news. We are seeing some movement and growth in terms of representation, but it remains clear that there is much more work to be done in the space in order to achieve true gender parity in the tech space.
Now, UNICEF reports that between 40 million and 160 million women will need to transition between occupations by 2030. Technology is a growing space and one that needs more talent to fill the many positions that are unfilled and additional ones that will be created in the near future. The opportunity is there to bring more women to the sector — we just need to ensure that that opportunity doesn’t fall by the wayside.
The advantages of bringing more women to technology are clear. Overall, companies that receive higher scores in gender diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. And there is the social, economic, and global impact of movements toward better gender diversity.
The path forward will take effort, but it is clear: gender equality is possible in the technology sector, and it is necessary.