How Colleges and Universities Can Impact the Gender Gap in the Tech Workforce

A new study by Accenture, the consulting and technology services company based in Dublin, Ireland, has issued a new report that finds that the proportion of women to men in tech roles has declined over the past 35 years. And half of all young women who go into tech drop out by the age of 35.

The authors state that “we’ve found that an inclusive culture—one that is not only diverse on paper, but that enables everyone to have a voice — is the master key that unlocks opportunities for women who are studying and working in technology. Our survey of students, employees, senior HR leaders, and human resources officers reveals the specific environmental characteristics that will help women in tech advance and thrive. The differences between the most and least inclusive environments are huge. In less-inclusive colleges, one in four women feels like an outsider. Just one in 20 women feel that way in more-inclusive colleges. And in less-inclusive workplaces, the likelihood that a woman will advance to manager is just 28 percent, compared with 40 percent for men. That gender difference disappears in more-inclusive workplaces.”

For colleges, the report recommends:

1. Commit to greater gender diversity in faculty with the goal that 35 percent of all faculty members in STEM be women.

2. Start campaigns against sexual harassment/discrimination and the use of gender-biased language.

3. Offer support outside of class, such as study groups, office hours, guidance from an academic advisor/counselor, and mentoring in order to retain women.

4. Build a positive image of people — and especially women — who work in tech.

5. Demonstrate clear links between tech studies and tech careers. The study’s authors found that women who see a clear path from their tech program to a tech career are 25 percent more likely to want to pursue one.

The full study, Resetting Tech Culture: 5 Strategies to Keep Women in Tech, may be downloaded here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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