Critical Read

Calling all women in IT

help wanted sign

What: Opportunities for Women in IT, conducted by AIM, Levi Thiele, PhD

Why: Information Technology is among the fastest-growing sectors in the economy. From 2001 to 2011, even in the face of recent recession, the number of IT jobs grew by 22.2 percent. (U.S. employment overall increased by just 0.2 percent over that same period.) And IT employment is expected to increase another 18 percent by 2022, according to the Labor Department.

However, a key demographic remains woefully underrepresented in this growth area: Just one in four professional computing jobs in the U.S. are held by women.

This pattern begins in the classroom. In 2012, 30,000 students took the first-level AP computer science exam, but only 20 percent were female. In Mississippi, Montana, and Wyoming, not one female student took the AP test, according to the report.

And everyone would benefit from more women in the IT workforce, Thiele argues.

“Diversity in IT is important for several reasons. Besides promoting equality, it also enhances innovation and productivity,” the report states. “Studies have shown that gender-balanced teams were more likely to experiment, share knowledge, and fulfill tasks.”

In addition, the gender-wage gap in IT is much less—women earn $0.91 to every $1.00 their male counterparts do, compared to the nation’s average of $0.77 on the dollar. And Tech companies around the country are embracing new styles of work to recruit and retain the best talent; many companies offer telework, flexible work schedules, wellness programs, unlimited vacation and sick days and various other perks.

Job security is another reason for women to work in IT, the report notes. In 2012, the overall U.S. unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, but the unemployment rate for IT jobs was only 3.6 percent.

And while the numbers are changing, there is still more room for growth. The total number of college students in IT is increasing, but there are still not sufficient numbers of graduates to fill the available IT jobs. And only 18 percent of computer and information sciences degrees were earned by women.

Verbatim: “If current trends continue, the IT field will face a shortage of talent and reduced innovation, productivity, and competitiveness. With the demand for IT talent outstripping supply, we cannot afford to leave half of the population untapped.”

Click here for full report

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a staff writer covering big data, cloud computing and the federal workforce. Connect with her on Twitter: @ColbyAnn.

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Reader comments

Tue, Jul 15, 2014 Tamara

All the author of this article did was summarize the 11 page report that was written by Levi Thiele, PhD. Some of the "IT jobs" that Dr. Thiele lists in his report do not require an IT degree of any kind to do. They are little more than "clerk/typist" very low paying positions that women sterotypically hold any way. If you really want more women involved in real IT careers, get Hollywood involved to stop portraying women that are good in math, science, and IT as the sterotypical geek wearing thick glassed, ill-fitting clothing, and socially inept. The Big Bang Theory, while it takes the stereotype over the top for both men and women, it particularly hurts the chances of more women getting involved in those areas. More shows like NCIS, with women like the charactor of "Abby", which by the way is based much on the actress's (Pauley Perrette) actual own accomplishments (I believe she holds a master's degree in criminal science.) She's not your typical geek, stuck in a dark basement.

Tue, Jul 1, 2014 John

Ms. Hochmuth repeats the thoroughly discredited figure of 77 cents earned by women for every dollar earned by men. Why should I believe anything else that she writes?

Mon, Jun 30, 2014

Then more women need to get IT degrees, attend IT technical colleges, and test for IT as explained in the article. Nothing earth shattering here. This needs to be sold to women who are willing to work very long hard hours for a long career with little appreciation. It's that simple.

Mon, Jun 30, 2014

This article belongs in the garbage bin. First, it tries to create some myth that "gender-balanced teams" improve the work output. (There is NO significant research that says that "gender-balanced teams" improve the work.) Second, it quotes bunch of meaningless statistics. (Real unemployment is actually in the double didgits.) Then it finishes with "there are still not sufficient numbers of graduates to fill the available IT jobs" despite the fact there is still at least "3.6 percent" unemployment in the IT workforce per this article. I have heard this type of talk in the past, right after I completed graduate school, from the very same companies, working in my field of expertise, that would not even interview me for employment. No one should take this article seriously.

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