Are women in technology the Rodney Dangerfields of the working world? In a poll of over 3,000 Americans by software company Mediaocean, more than three-fourths of respondents say there aren’t enough women working in the technology industry, and believe women who do work in tech don’t get the same respect as men do.
However, most of the respondents in the survey didn’t share that lack of respect. Some 77 percent said they believe having more women working in technology would mean more creativity (77 percent) and innovation in the technology world. And 82 percent believe having more women in technology would help increase the average household income.
Some 40 percent of respondents think the reason there aren’t more women in technology is that tech companies are “biased” against women. About 73 percent think girls should learn about technology in elementary school and 70 percent say more women should study technology/computer science subjects in college.
At the same time, however, 40 percent think women are less interested in technology than men, and 17 percent think technology is “unfeminine.”
How can you help overcome these stereotypes and encourage more women in tech? If you own a technology company, take active steps to recruit more female employees in all job roles—not just marketing or HR, where women in tech tend to be clustered, but programmers and management. Also be sensitive to behavior or attitudes that may make women employees feel unwelcome, and nip it in the bud.
Reaching out to the younger generation of women is important, too. Eighty-four percent of respondents in the study believe more steps should be taken to change the perception of women in tech. If you’re a woman in technology yourself, getting involved with local primary and secondary schools, such as participating in career days to let young women know about technology opportunities, is a great way to help overcome the stereotypes that tech is for “boys only.”
Mediaocean, which says 36 percent of its workforce is female, is actively trying to increase those numbers. It also launched a scholarship program to help women in college and graduate school pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) degrees.
The company says working to get more women into technology is important to the industry because diversity in the work force increases competitiveness and innovation. It’s also important to the nation as a whole because by 2018, there is projected to be a severe gap between the number technology jobs and available, skilled workers, leaving more than 40 percent of jobs unfilled.
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Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.