There is a concerted effort by many private, public and other groups and entities to get more girls into tech, and to counter the factors that push them away from the industry. More than 5.1 million people worked in core technology jobs in the U.S. at the end of 2015, but just 25 percent of those jobs were held by women.
Early interaction with technology, more information about job opportunities and support from parents and role models are among the actions that will encourage more girls to consider tech as a career option, a press release from CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the technology industry, noted.
CompTIA recently released an ebook Make Tech Her Story: What Needs to Change to Inspire Girls’ Pursuit of IT Careers and companion website Make Tech Her Story as part of its new awareness campaign to inspire tech industry leaders, educators, parents and, most importantly, girls to make the industry more gender inclusive.
Here are some of the startling findings about the critical factors that discourage girls from considering careers in tech from CompTIA research, based on a survey:
- Parents play a key role in introducing technology – Girls and boys agree that parents and guardians are the primary source for finding out what IT stands for. But boys are more likely to begin using mobile devices at an earlier age, at five years old or younger, than girls (11 percent vs. 5 percent). Boys are also slightly more likely to explore the inner workings of tech devices out of curiosity (36 percent vs. 30% of girls).
- Girls’ interest in technology lessens with age – Nearly half of boys have considered a tech career, compared to less than one-quarter of girls. Among middle school girls, 27 percent have considered a career in technology. By high school this figure drops to 18 percent.
- Tech classes aren’t enough –Girls who have taken a technology class are only slightly more likely to have considered an IT career (32 percent). Less than half of girls who’ve taken these courses are confident their skills are right for the job.
- Girls lack awareness about career opportunities – Of girls who have not considered an IT career, 69 percent attribute this to not knowing what opportunities are available to them. More than half (53 percent) say additional information about career options would encourage them to consider a job in IT.
- Girls need role models in the industry – Just 37 percent of girls know of someone with an IT job. This rises to 60 percent among girls who have considered an IT career.
CompTIA hopes its efforts and even these positive images and a Rosie the Riveter style avatar maker (make your own here) will help shift the gender gap in tech.
Here is mine: