This guide is all about how to get more women in tech. First, we will examine why the gender gap in tech fields exists and what we can do about it. And then, we will take a look at the best way to find opportunities for women interested in science, technology, and engineering — including scholarships, internships, and employment opportunities all geared toward the most cutting edge fields.
We’ve come a long way since the 1920s, when women first rushed into the streets for their right to vote. Women can now divorce, shop without an escort and even (believe it or not) wear pants. But although it’s been 100 years since that disruption to the status quo, a lot remains unchanged. Women continue to make less money than men, and gender discrimination and sexual harassment remain prevalent in the job sector. Just the fact that women carry children, aka assure that our species doesn’t go extinct, seems to be an issue. As shocking as it might seem to some, many employers avoid hiring women because they’re worried about having to pay maternity leave.
And if things for women seem challenging in the job sector, wait ‘till you zoom into the tech industry. According to the NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology), women only make up 25 percent of the tech workforce. That number has been steadily declining since 1984 when it was 37 percent. More women were in tech in the past than they are now!
Why did you even create this guide if the tech landscape is so bleak? The world seems to notice the disparity in the tech industry, and so do companies that are losing money by having fewer female employees. How? Half the world’s consumers are women, so by mainly having men build solutions, these solutions do not always factor in the needs of half the world’s population. Not to mention the billions of dollars lost each year due to unfair-based female employee turnover.
One issue that is getting headlines is that women keep leaving the tech industry due to discrimination. This means all eyes are on tech giants and industry leaders to help find a solution to this looming problem. As a result, many businesses, educational institutions, and non-profits are now providing guidance, support, and financial assistance to help place more women in tech and keep them there. So if you’re a woman who wants a career in tech or one already in the tech industry but wants to advance, it’s time you take advantage of some of these resources.
Where Did We Go Wrong?
Not sure how the fastest growing and most innovative industry on the planet has gone backward regarding gender equality, but there are a few speculations. There is no one particular reason women are being underrepresented in tech.
Instead, several factors come into play that has created this less than favorable and even sometimes hostile environment for women. Lack of mentorship and guidance from an early age, cultural and societal gender biases, the prevalence of “bro culture” at startups, sexual harassment & gender discrimination at work, and the absence of female role models in the tech industry are a few. And unfortunately, a lot of these things feed into each other, creating a vicious cycle.
As a result, women feel unable to thrive and don’t even consider a tech career. Even if they have one, they are 50 percent more likely to leave their jobs than their male counterparts. In fact, according to a study, 50 percent of women have left their careers in tech by the time they’re 35. And 28 percent of those claim it’s due to a lack of career growth opportunities. In another study of 716 women surveyed, 85 percent left their jobs due to poor maternity leave policies and lack of childcare and maternity facilities in the office.
Now let’s talk about gender discrimination. According to stats by Builtin, 48 percent of women report gender discrimination in the hiring process, 50 percent in the workplace, and 36 percent report sexual harassment being a big issue in their companies. In addition, 39 percent of women feel gender bias is why they haven’t gotten a promotion. But gender discrimination doesn’t stop there. Since male employees outnumber females, women feel underrepresented in their company and are afraid to voice their opinions. Seventy-two percent of women have worked in a company where “bro culture” is prevalent, making it a hostile work environment that often results in harassment and assault.
“Impostor Syndrome” seems to be another byproduct of gender bias in the workplace and affects 22 percent more women than men. According to Pew’s 2017 research, these gender biases also make 79% of women feel they have to work harder to prove themselves, resulting in frequent burnouts. And especially after COVID-19, where women took on more responsibilities at home, 43 percent reported experiencing burnout vs. 33 percent of their male counterparts. I bet you’re feeling exhausted just reading about it.
And that brings us to the pay disparity. The median male tech employee makes 61 percent more than the median female, 515,000 vs. 90,000, while getting much less equity. Moreover, companies offer 60 percent higher salaries to men than women for the same job position.
What about female entrepreneurs? It turns out only 1 in 4 tech founders are female. According to Builtin, despite 40 percent of US businesses being female-owned, only 2 percent of those received investor funding. On a more positive note, 79 percent of women feel more empowered now than they did five years ago, raising money though 66 percent still report having difficulty obtaining it.
Some other good news is that the percentage of women holding leadership positions in tech grew from 21 percent to 24 percent. However, despite the increase, 54% of men felt they’d be promoted to an executive position vs. only 25% of women.
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the stats let’s see what we can do to turn things around.
How Can We Fix It?
Closing the gap in tech is important for many reasons. Firstly, women make up 40 percent of the US workforce. With the tech industry being the fastest growing sector and others rapidly shrinking, there will be a disparity between supply and demand for employees if this continues. This is already the case in some tech sectors like cybersecurity.
Secondly, women-led companies and companies with more female employees historically outperform by 3x ones that are male dominant. In fact, in companies where 50 percent or more of executives are women, there are reported higher job satisfaction, better work culture, equal and higher pay, and less female employee turnover. Another study in 2020 by McKinsey found that tech companies with more diversity hire better talent, have more productive employees, and perform better overall. Finally, tech companies with more gender diversity create products that consider all their consumers, building better and safer solutions for the future.
All this points to a win/win for all parties. However, the solution to closing the gender gap is not that simple. As we saw, many factors cause this gender disparity. Companies, tech leaders, educational institutions, and women themselves need to all work together to shift the tide for things to change.
For instance, businesses need to provide equal pay to all their employees who hold the same position, whether male or female. They also have a responsibility to educate their employees through training and programs on gender discrimination and promote a safe and comfortable work culture for everyone. They need to implement better maternity leave policies and provide childcare and maternity facilities. In addition, they need to create strict discrimination and harassment policies and make sure they are enforced. If they’re not sure how to remove gender biases when hiring, they should hire a recruiting firm that is an expert in the field. Finally, they can invest in their female employees by covering the costs of additional training and education. They can even give scholarships to women who want to pursue a career in tech and work with educational institutions to educate female students on employment opportunities and career options.
Individuals in leadership positions within a company need to be open to giving women promotions in mid-level and senior roles. Ideally, they should serve as mentors and guide women who want to grow in the company. They need to discourage “bro culture” and promote empathy in the workplace. Tech leaders should also promote gender diversity via social media and discussions at conferences.
Finally, women themselves must learn to speak up in all areas, from throwing ideas at meetings to mentioning their successes and expressing their needs. They must express interest in higher positions and ask for help and guidance from their supervisors and other acquaintances in the industry.
Scholarships and Assistance for Women in Tech
The bright side of being underrepresented in any sector or community is that there are many scholarships, educational programs, and assistance available to try and solve the issue. The same goes for women in tech.
Let’s start with coding bootcamps. Most of these programs offer scholarships for women, so if there are some particular ones you’ve set your eye on, you can always call their admissions office and get information. Nine times out of ten, they will offer assistance, whether it’s a loan or a scholarship. With traditional universities, the scholarship and grant process is more thorough. Still, once again, most colleges offer scholarships for women in STEM, and so do non-profits and many community programs supporting women. Additionally, if you happen to be a member of a religious, ethnic, or cultural group, check with the leaders and institutions of your community. More often than not, they will have assistance programs specifically for women.
When it comes to employment opportunities, you will find a lot of support there. From career fairs just for women in tech to individual companies having special programs for hiring women, opportunities are popping in every corner. A simple google search or asking friends and colleagues in the industry can get you far. And if there is a particular company you’d like to work for, check out their website or reach out to them directly. The bigger the company is, the more the chances they will have a division or program focused on hiring female employees.
Enough with the general advice. Let’s check out some existing resources to get you started.
All the programs and scholarships below are specifically for women who want to enter or excel in the tech industry.
Coding Bootcamp Scholarships for Women
Coding bootcamps and certification courses are an excellent way for women with related experience and background to jumpstart a career in tech. Here is a sample of some bootcamp-style programs that offer a scholarship for women and other underrepresented people in tech:
- Flatiron: The Flatiron School offers a bootcamp and certification style courses in a variety of tech topics ranginging from cybersecurity, design, and software development. They have teamed up with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to develop a scholarship program for their course offerings. Currently, the scholarships are for 50 percent off of tuition.
- Hackbright Academy: Hackbright was created in 2012 with a single focus — make tech careers more accessible to women. This coding school is mainly focused on software development skills and career prep, and they partner with a number of companies to help get their graduates employment opportunities.
- DevPoint: DevPoint is a Salt Lake City-based computer coding and development education program. They offer a scholarship of 50 percent off their programs in an effort to get more women in computer programming.
- Grey Campus: Grey Campus offers a number of courses and programs related to computer science, engineering, and security. They are offering 100 scholarships for women worldwide. The assistance covers 100 percent of the program fees and are designed to get more women into data science and full stack development roles.
- Coding Dojo: Coding Dojo has campuses all over the world and a three-stack software development bootcamp. They also have The Women in Tech Scholarship, which offers $1,000 to aspiring female computer programmers who need financial assistance to launch their careers.
- Grand Circus: Grand Circus is a virtual coding bootcamp whose alumni have gone on to work at companies like Accenture, Ford, Rocket Mortgage, and more. Through partnerships with Apple, Facebook, and Google allow them to make tech careers more accessible to everyone, including women. According to the Grand Circus web site, anyone who identifies as a woman automatically qualifies for a scholarship of $1750.
- DigitalCrafts: DigitalCrafts’ bootcamps are among the best reviewed programs in the country. Because their mission is to make tech careers accessible to the underrepresented, all women who join the DigitalCrafts family automatically receive scholarships. Women in their Immersive program receive $1,500 off of tuition, while those in their Flex program receive $1,000 off of tuition.
- General Assembly: The General Assembly team started as operators of a co-working space in 2011, but they’ve since shifted to helping people foster careers in coding, data, design, and marketing. If you’re 18 or older and you self-identify as a woman, you qualify for their Break the Glass Tuition Discount. It’s geared towards those from underrepresented groups pursuing careers in data science and software engineering.
- Bloc: Bloc offers two programs: Designer Track and Web Developer Track. Women can apply for any of three scholarships: the Close the Gap Scholarship Fund, which offers up to 25 percent off tuition; the Girl Develop It Scholarship in Web Development ($1,000 off tuition), or the New Relic Diversity Scholarship in Software Development and Design ($500 off tuition).
- Ironhack: Ironhack offers in-person and remote, full-time and part-time courses in Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Immersive Web Development, and UX/UI Design. Their partnership with Bunq allows them to offer $85K in scholarships to women looking to enter the tech industry.
Computer Science & STEM Scholarships for Women
Many scholarships are available for more formal degree programs in science, technology, and engineering.
- Science Ambassador Scholarship: Funded by the hilarious card game Cards Against Humanity, this four-year scholarship will give the winner a full ride to the school of her choice, as long as her field of study is within engineering, math, science, and technology.
- Society of Women Engineers: They offer a wide variety of scholarships to anyone who identifies as a woman and plans to go into engineering, engineering technology, or computer science. Applicants need only apply once and they’ll be considered for all eligible scholarships.
- Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship: In a bid to encourage women to pursue careers in tech, they launched this scholarship program in 2010. All recipients will receive $7,000 and an opportunity to join the Palantir team as a full-time employee or an intern.
- Lynn G. Bellenger Scholarship: The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers offers a $5,000 scholarship to women pursuing undergraduate degrees in engineering. The scholarship is named after the society’s first female president.
- SMART Scholarship: This scholarship from the Department of Defense (DoD) covers the full cost of tuition up to $38K. It’s open to those pursuing a technical degree in one of 21 STEM disciplines prioritized by the DoD, as long as they’re willing to accept post-graduation employment with the department.
- Aysen Tunca Memorial Scholarship: Established by Aysen Tunca’s son and his wife, this scholarship offers $2000 to a female undergraduate majoring in a STEM field. They prefer first-generation college students or those from underprivileged backgrounds.
- LoadView Women in Computing Scholarship: This scholarship was launched in 2016 by Julia Garbuz, who interned at Dotcom-Monitor while studying Computer Science at the University of Minnesota. It offers $1,000 to one female undergraduate student a year to support her desire to pursue a computing career.
Organizations & Non-Profits for Women in Tech
Many groups aim to promote diversity and inclusivity in the tech field. Read about some of them (and their initiatives) below.
- Global Women in Tech: Founded in 2017, this non-profit parlays its partnerships with various organizations into innovative programs aimed at enhancing the educational and professional development of women in STEM in Romania. Their goal is to give these women access to career opportunities, knowledge, and programs that will bolster their chances of success in STEM fields.
- Women in Technology International: Women in Technology International has been at the forefront of the advancement of women in business and technology since 1989. WITI helps Fortune 500 companies, SMBs, and startups build diverse and inclusive workplaces for minorities, which of course includes women.
- Women Who Code: This organization’s efforts are geared towards realizing its ultimate goal, which is to build a world where more women are in positions of power in STEM. They want to see women as board members, executives, founders, software engineers, technical leaders, and VCs.
- Switch: Formerly known as Women 2.0., the organization’s goals haven’t changed despite its rebranding. It remains committed to championing gender diversity and representation in tech. At present, their dev and rebrand team is composed entirely of women, and they’re led by a female CEO.
- WIT: Women in Technology encourages girls and women to excel in STEAM, not just STEM. Aside from science, technology, engineering, and math, this organization also focuses on the arts. They lean heavily on success stories of women in tech to empower and inspire their core audience.
- Girls in Tech: Adriana Gascoigne founded Girls in Tech back in 2007 to eliminate the gender gap in tech. Aside from educating 75,000 participants through various bootcamps, this organization has also helped entrepreneurs with funding through AMPLIFY, their startup pitch competition.
- Girls Who Code: Geared towards nurturing young girls’ interest in STEM fields, Girls Who Code aims to reach girls around the world through advocacy work, books, campaigns, online resources, and more. As of this writing, they’ve reached 500 million students all over the world.
- Girl Develop It: The people at Girl Develop It dream of a world where all people, particularly women and non-binary adults, are empowered and included in the development of technology. To that end, they create opportunities for these people to learn software development skills.
- Black Girls Code: There aren’t many women in STEM, and there are even less women of color. Black Girls Code aims to change that by equipping young women of color with skills in computer programming and technology.
- FutureGirlCorp: If you’re a woman who dreams of succeeding in tech, this organization founded by Sharmadean Reid is just what you need. Check out Reid’s interview with the Foundation FM group, where she talks about how to build a tech team.
Companies Supporting Women in Tech
Take a look at what some well-known companies have done to advance women’s rights in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
- Deloitte: Deloitte is one of the leading professional services ﬁrms in the country. It provides audit, business process, financial advisory, risk advisory, and tax solutions. Its Women in Tech program identifies steps to foster diversity and inclusivity in IT and supports career progression for women in tech.
- Airbnb: An American company that operates an online marketplace for different types of lodging, Airbnb doesn’t have one specific program for women in tech, but it has implemented several policies and struck up partnerships that aim to advance belonging, diversity, and inclusivity in their workplace.
- Capital One: Based in McLean, Virginia, Capital One is an American bank holding company specializing in auto loans, banking, and credit cards, among other services. Its Women in Tech Business Resource Group aims to help women to stake their claim on leadership opportunities in tech.
- Freddie Mac: Chartered by the US Congress in 1970 to support the country’s housing finance system, this company is committed to creating opportunities for and developing women leaders. They even started a campaign called #LeadTheWay, which champions women’s rights in the workplace and promotes the advancement of women to leadership positions.
- Google: In 2015, Google backed groups that help women in tech. Meanwhile, their employees in Europe have been training people to develop digital skills as part of a worldwide initiative called Grow With Google. Four years ago, 48% of the people they trained were women, thanks to programs like #IamRemarkable and WomenWill.
- Lucid Motors: Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Newark, California, Lucid Motors manufactures electric vehicles. Although automotive design is traditionally a male-dominated field, Lucid Motors aims to change that by putting more women in leadership positions. In April 2021, it allowed a podcaster to interview the all-female team working on what would become the Lucid Air Luxury Car.
- Moody’s: This global risk assessment firm was originally created to bring expertise, transparency, and trust to bond transactions. On a special section of its official website, Moody’s proudly proclaims its commitment to promoting gender equality by providing the women on its team with programs, resources, and services to support them.
- Target: According to this page on their corporate website, Target has a Women’s Business Council, woman owned badge on Target.com, and supplier diversity efforts. The company is also behind Target Elevate, a platform designed to empower women in tech, help them excel at what they do, and eventually form a support system to succeed together.
- Netflix: This February 2022 report says the company’s global workforce and more than half of its leadership was female. Meanwhile nearly 11 percent of its US workforce is Black, while about 9% is Hispanic or Latinx. Those percentages are significantly higher than other tech companies’.
- Slack: According to this blog post, as of 2021, 44.9 percent of the company’s workforce was composed of women in various roles, including creatives, engineers, and HR representatives. Slack continues to roll out initiatives to empower their female team members and encourage more women to join the tech field.
- KKR: In 2017, KKR announced its partnership with Code First Girls. They pledged support for its 20:20 campaign, which aimed to train 20,000 women to code for free by the end of 2020. They remain committed to diversity; as recently as 2019, they worked with a staffing firm in a bid to increase female representation within their ranks.
- Intel: Intel has always been at the forefront of women empowerment. The company supports a range of competitions, programs, and resources geared towards inspiring women to pursue tech careers. This look at their initiatives for women inside and outside Intel is a great read.
- Boston Consulting Group: In 2020, BGC ventured into women empowerment in Southeast Asia. They partnered with a Singaporean firm to do research on how they can support women in tech in that particular region. They’re very invested in helping women succeed in the workplace, as evidenced by their global Women@BGC network.
- IBM: Aside from partnering with Girls Who Code in a bid to close the gender gap in technology, IBM isn’t shy about letting the world know just how big an impact women have made in the industry.
There you have it! A comprehensive guide for women in the tech industry. Now is your chance to be part of the solution to a problem that’s existed for as long as the tech industry itself. And now that you are aware of both the pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities available to you, it’s your time to shine.