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Girls who code

Actions to increase women in tech business

50% of women in tech end up leaving the force by the age of 35, many of them saying that they found their workplace to be inhospitable or that it lacked female role models, according to a survey made by non-profit organisation Girls Who Code together with consultancy Accenture. 

“Women make up only 26% of all computing roles, and for Black and Latinx women, the statistics are even worse – combined, they make up roughly about 5% of all computing jobs,” Girls Who Code’s  CEO, Tarika Barrett recently told the World Economic Forum’s recent Sustainable Development Impact Meetings, WEF’s website reports.

Half of women say they lack female role models in tech. A third of women say they lack the same opportunities as their male counterparts. 

“And when we look at tech leadership, women make up only 5%. And if we’re talking about Black and Latinx CEOs of Fortune 500 tech companies, that number is zero”, Barrett said in an interview with WEF.

“Companies need a diversity of perspective to be effective, but they continue to fail to attract and retain diverse talent.”

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Barrett said that an earlier study shows 50% of respondents said they had either experienced or knew a woman who had experienced discrimination. 

“This ranged from sexist and racist comments all the way to blatant harassment, and these were young women who were just embarking on their careers.”

“Some of them had gone through 5 to 10 rounds of interviews without seeing a single woman or a woman of colour.” 

“When you think about that environment characterizing our companies – and remember that every company is almost a tech company now – we have a serious issue”, Barrett says.

“I think one big thing that companies can do is to broaden the scope of where they look for strong candidates. There’s an overreliance sometimes on four-year university courses or Ivy League institutions, but we know that half of the women we serve at Girls Who Code come from historically underrepresented groups.”

The Girls Who Code/Accenture study says that a fresh approach could increase the number of women in computing to 3.9 million by 2025. That would lift their share from 24% four years ago to 39% of the computing workforce and generate $299 billion in additional cumulative earnings.

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The survey says that keys to improvement include: Sparking the interest of girls in junior high school, sustaining their commitment in high school where early gains are often lost, and inspiring college undergraduates by reframing computer curriculums. 

Girls Who Code aims to close the gender gap in new entry-level tech roles by 2030. The organisation was founded in 2012 to help girls and women learn computer programming. The organization is also pushing other initiatives to achieve gender parity in the tech sector.

World Economic Forum’s annual report on the global gender gap shows it will take 131 years to reach full gender parity if improvements continue at the present modest speed, 

“While the global parity score has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the overall rate of change has slowed down significantly. Even reverting back to the time horizon of 100 years to parity projected in the 2020 edition would require a significant acceleration of progress”, the report says.

Women remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce, the report says referring to data from LinkedIn. Women make up almost half (49.3%) of total employment across non-STEM occupations, but just 29.2% of all STEM workers. 

“While the percentage of female STEM graduates entering into STEM employment is increasing with every cohort, the numbers on the integration of STEM university graduates into the labour market show that the retention of women in STEM even one year after graduating sees a significant drop.” 

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