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Tech jobs gender gap persists; Nonprofit seeks to boost women’s tech careers

gender gap in tech jobs

The gender imbalance in the technology sector is a pressing issue, with only 26% of all computing roles currently held by women, and this figure drops to just around 5% for Black and Latinx women, as reported by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023. Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization founded in 2012, is dedicated to bridging this gender gap in entry-level tech roles by 2030. The CEO of Girls Who Code, Tarika Barrett, discussed the organization’s initiatives and the importance of getting more women and girls involved in technology.

Who are ‘Girls Who Code’?

Barrett emphasized the need for representation in the tech workforce that reflects the diversity of communities and the world. Girls often grow up seeing male tech role models like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates, which can limit their sense of belonging in the field. When women, non-binary individuals, and people of color enter the tech sector, they become creators and advocates for technology that caters to a broader range of needs and interests.

Barriers to entry for women and girls in the tech sector include a lack of female role models, unequal opportunities compared to men, and a severe underrepresentation in tech leadership, where women account for just 5%. Discrimination is another challenge, with 50% of women having experienced or known someone who experienced various forms of discrimination, from sexist and racist comments to blatant harassment. This unwelcoming atmosphere often leads to a 50% attrition rate for women in tech by the age of 35.

Girls Who Code’s initiatives aim to break these barriers and foster the next generation of women in tech. They provide free afterschool clubs, summer programs, and leadership academies, nurturing a diverse community that supports and inspires each other. In response to the pandemic, they transitioned to virtual programming, reaching more marginalized students in poor and rural areas than ever before. Their approach is a mix of synchronous and asynchronous project-based learning, group collaboration, and other formats designed to empower young women and non-binary students.

The approach to reduce the gender gap

Barrett highlighted the importance of rethinking recruitment practices in the tech industry. By broadening the search for talent, companies can tap into the passion, resilience, and diversity that don’t always come through in traditional academic credentials. Girls Who Code has organized hiring summits that have connected employers with potential candidates they might not have considered otherwise. One company that participated hired 17 Girls Who Code alumni, demonstrating a commitment to transforming their company culture and taking advantage of diverse talent.

Overall, Girls Who Code is committed to empowering girls and women to pursue careers in technology, breaking down barriers, and fostering a sense of belonging in a sector that has been traditionally male-dominated. They believe that when girls and young women see technology as a means to make a positive impact on the world and their communities, they are more motivated to join the tech workforce and drive change.

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