A Look at the State of Women in Tech

On Tuesday evening we held our most recent Womxn in Tech event in Seattle. We welcomed a crowd of 250+ to ThinkSpace and heard impactful, moving presentations from Marriott Winquist of BrightTree Consulting, Killer Visual Strategies founder and CEO Amy Balliett, forgeDX founder and CEO Cydni Tetro, and Erin Stoner, co-chair of Seattle Women @ eBay.

Over the past six years, we’ve now held roughly 20 such events. Continuing this tradition, next Tuesday evening we’ll hear from Christy Johnson (who sat down for an interview earlier this summer here and here), Jen O’Ryan and Nicole Buchanan at our New Tech Eastside Women in Tech event. They’ll share their stories about the difficulties, successes and benefits of women in the tech industry and what we can all do to ensure women aren’t just fully represented, but thrive.

Since I’ve written extensively on the topic of women and diversity in tech in recent years, I decided to take a step back for this article and look at some recent statistics and trends to get a sense of the state of women in tech in 2019.

I came across a thorough, detailed and insightful report published by web hosting provider DreamHost aptly titled “The State of Women in Tech in 2019.” While some of the stats and studies referenced in the report are a few years old, I think it does an excellent job of highlighting the current state of women in tech today.

Though likely not a surprise to any of us, it’s still disappointing and disheartening to see that only 25 percent of computing jobs are held by women. This trend is likely exacerbated by the fact that just 18 percent of students majoring in computer science are women. What I found particularly alarming, however, was the fact that in 1985 that number was 37 percent – a nearly 20 point decline in the past three decades.

For those women working in tech, the turnover rate is more than twice as high as it is for men (41 percent versus 17 percent). And more than half of women (56 percent) are leaving mid-career. A few other statistics to ponder (note: a few differ from the DreamHost report based on more current reporting I found).

  • In 2018, 3 percent of venture capital raised went to companies founded solely by women
  • Just 8 percent of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women
  • Women hold only 20 percent of all Fortune 500 company CIO positions
  • More than 30 percent of women 35+ are still in a junior tech position

Clearly, we have our work cut out for us, and there’s much more we can – and must – do to ensure women thrive in tech. While the data paints a solemn picture, what I liked about the DreamHost report is that it also collected a number of examples of how companies are supporting women. Here are a few that stood out to me.

  • Intel serves as a strategic partner of the Girl Rising education access and awareness film
  • Netflix offers unlimited paid parental leave for a year following the birth or adoption of a child
  • Investment firm KKR provides childcare options to parents travelling for work
  • And Patagonia offers an on-site childcare center

While these approaches all likely incur significant expense and may require executive involvement to get off the ground, a Seattle Times article last year highlighted a few steps that local tech companies are taking to address the gender gap.

  • Redfin maintains a “bug tracker” for diversity initiatives, with one project resulting in a Slack automated notification that a word you’re typing cold be derogatory
  • Zillow ensures that both men and women are interviewing potential hires, and the company has expanded college recruitment to find students from diverse backgrounds
  • The HR team at Tableau works with every department to ensure promotions and pay raises are equitable
  • Expedia expanded its diversity practices to include having at least one female candidate interview for senior leadership openings across the company

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and each of these efforts can play a role in creating a more inclusive company and expanding opportunities for women in the industry. What are some other examples that your company or others are taking to support women in tech? Leave a comment and share with the group!

I personally look forward to hearing from Christy, Jen and Nicole next week as they share their stories about how they’ve overcome the odds to lead successful careers in the industry. I hope you’ll join us at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 17 at eBay in One Bellevue Center’s Pike Place Event Room on the 5th Floor, 411 – 108th Avenue NE. No tickets are available at the door so reserve your spot by registering here. See you then!

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