Addressing the workplace gender gap has always been difficult, especially in STEM fields. As noted in statistics from the US Census Bureau, women only make up 27% of all STEM workers. This disparity is evident in industries such as computer science and engineering, which comprise almost 80% of the STEM workforce. Despite the considerable number of unfilled roles in these fields, just a quarter of women are computer workers, and 15% of those are in engineering occupations. While there have been movements against underrepresentation, there remain issues with salary standards in STEM occupations — as many women still earn less than men. Moreover, there are still problems for women already in those positions, such as the lack of growth opportunities, mentors, and benefits that meet the unique needs of women.
Importance of Gender Equality
Gender equality in the workspace is not only about fairness and justice; it’s also an essential driver of business growth and profit. A report on gender equality by Forbes notes that research has shown that inclusive teams make better business decisions by up to 87%. Furthermore, organizations with greater diversity among their executive teams were found to have higher profits and longer-term value, enjoying greater productivity and even higher employee satisfaction. Considering its benefits, businesses and organizations must invest in policies and programs that actively promote the inclusion of women and people of non-binary genders in STEM.
Closing the Gender Gap
As mentioned, there are still many challenges when closing the gender gap in computer science. A guide from Maryville University for women in computer science notes how underrepresentation is evident in the limited number of women who serve as tech employees, conference speakers, and published authors. In real life, as well as entertainment and media, the field is heavily male-represented, which often discourages both women and non-binary individuals from entering this area of expertise.
To close this gap, computer science must be introduced to students early in their education. Through visible role models and support in technological studies, more young people from marginalized genders can be inspired to pursue computer science careers. This is why many organizations, including ChickTech, continue establishing programs with students — helping them break down biases and discrimination surrounding these technology industries.
Empowering Women and Non-Binary Individuals
Through our various tech programs and events, we at ChickTech aim to empower people of marginalized genders in a rapidly growing industry. As noted in our 2021/2022 Annual Report, ChickTech has already provided cost-free opportunities to explore the tech industry to more than 200 high school students through 22 events and workshops last year. Not only did these students have an educational and supportive environment where they could learn about tech roles, but they also benefited from a one-on-one mentorship program this year. In the case of Pauline’s ChickTech Story at the Robotics Bootcamp, the program gave her greater insight into technical knowledge on robotics engineering — pushing her to pursue mentorship in coding and technology for like-minded kids.
Furthermore, our organization has also impacted adults in tech through ChickTech’s signature adult program, Advancing the Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W). Through ACT-W, professionals of all genders are given a platform where they can accelerate their careers, advance into leadership, and celebrate diversity. Sloane Miller shared her experience with ChickTech, acknowledging how coding workshops have enabled her to enhance her knowledge and interest in technology. She said “it was overall very helpful in guiding me down my path”. She was able to put technical knowledge to the test when working at Disney, enabling her to pursue her passion for storytelling even in the tech world.
With computers and technology looming larger in students’ and professionals’ everyday lives, it’s only a matter of time before more people are interested in joining the industry. The computer science field doesn’t have to be intimidating — tech workshops and programs provide opportunities to expand on technical knowledge, self-belief, and interest among individuals of marginalized genders. By nurturing this passion, we can work towards eventually closing the gender gap for good.