It’s time for the tech community to catch up.
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate female contributions to our culture – activism, policymaking, entrepreneurship, invention, the arts, humanitarian efforts and more. If we look to the history of tech, there are many women to honor. Ada Lovelace, who has been deemed the world’s first computer programmer for her Analytical Engine design way back in the 19th century. Grace Hopper, who in the 1940s recorded the first ever computer bug and developed a translation program that had a huge impact on the code optimization and translation formulas we use today. And more recent examples like Megan Smith, who in 2014 became the first U.S. female chief technology officer and spearheaded net neutrality efforts.
But… being able to rattle off a few key technology wonder women isn’t really honoring the profound value women bring to the industry. It’s also not doing a whole lot to advocate for ensuring they get a seat at the table – today and tomorrow.
Is the gender gap in tech really still a thing?
That’s a big, fat you betcha. A 2016 study by the National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that women hold only 26 percent of all computing occupations. What’s even more worrying is that this is actually a 10 percent drop from the early 90s. You won’t be surprised to learn that of that quarter of female tech workers, the majority is quite starkly white with a breakdown of just 5 percent Asian women, 3 percent Black women and 1 percent Hispanic women. It won’t come as shock either that women in computing fields are earning only 87 percent of what men are taking home, and Black women are only collecting 62 percent of men’s tech salaries. Oh, and only 5 percent of leadership positions in tech are held by women.
So, yes, the gender gap in tech is real. What can you do about it? One of the simplest things you can do is donate to one of the many nonprofit organizations that support women in tech. Here are some of our top picks:
1. Black Girls CODE
Founded by Kimberly Bryant in 2011, Black Girls CODE is on a mission to prove that girls of every color have the smarts to earn jobs in computing, as well as to help young girls of color develop a lifelong love of technology. The organization offers community outreach, workshops, training, coding and game design programs, and more. Donate here.
2. Girls Develop It
3. Girls in Tech
Passionate about inclusivity, Adriana Gascoigne founded Girls in Tech in 2007 with the aim to eliminate the gender gap in tech. The nonprofit currently has 60,000 members who are all invested in building a diverse tech workforce. The organization has funded 4,000+ female tech entrepreneurs, launched a startup pitch competition and hosted Hackathons attended by nearly 50,000 participants. They also offer coding, design and startup bootcamps. Donate here.
4. Project Include
Project Include believes that diversity leads to better teams, better companies and a better world. They advocate for tech companies to be inclusive in their opportunities (for women, minorities, underprivileged and more), comprehensive in their efforts and accountable for what they promise. They work directly with tech CEOs and leaders to offer strategies to implement these changes. Donate here.
5. Women Who Code
Women Who Code is striving for proportional female representation in the tech field – technical leaders, executives, founders, board members, designers, software engineers and more. They offer coding resources and educational programs, scholarship opportunities, assistance in finding mentorship and leadership programs, and access to their global community. They also work directly with corporations to advance change. Donate here.
We hope this list was helpful. Of course, you can also help create change just by listening. Check out our recommended reading list – all books by women about their careers in tech.