How can Women make their Prescence known in IT Jobs?

April 24, 2013

There's a vast supply of IT jobs out there for the taking, but there's a large subset of the population still struggling to take them – women. While the last few decades have seen a large-scale closing of the gender gap in the economy at large with more women finding jobs and making comparable salaries than ever before, that gap is still visible in the tech sector, and reversing that trend has been a long, arduous process.

The Christian Science Monitor recently uncovered some data on the IT gender gap. Citing a 2011 Department of Commerce report, the newspaper showed that women made up about 50 percent of the United States' overall workforce but held less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs. The paper furthermore noted that computing jobs are growing at double the national average, and by 2018, the industry will only be able to fill half of its open positions.

Clearly, a greater effort is necessary to reach out to women and get them involved in the tech profession. But Reshma Saujani, a prominent female programmer, argues that one problem is interest. Women don't think the field is for them.

"When girls think about computer science, they think about a guy in front of a computer typing," Saujani told The Christian Science Monitor.

Having said that, there are a few areas where women are making modest gains. Here are three.

Saujani has taken initiative to drum up more interest among her peers. The programmer recently founded Girls Who Code (GWC) in an effort to recruit more women to become software engineers – she's optimistic that she can fix the problem of women being disinterested in IT.

"I realized that we needed to do something about it," Saujani said. "We needed to start young, focusing on teenage girls, before they've figured out what they want to do with their lives."

According to InfoWorld, women have made significant gains in the tech consulting field. Dice survey data showed that while women only represent 31 percent of the tech workforce nationwide, they make up 46 percent of consultants, and that growth has happened primarily in the last nine years.

Forbes recently reported that freelance tech contracts are thriving, and the annual growth rate in earnings is higher for women (50 percent) than men (40 percent). For women who experience disruptions in their careers such as maternity leave, freelance jobs are good, flexible ways to remain in – or return to – the workplace, and currently, they're looking prosperous as well.