New research highlights the untapped potential of a more gender-balanced workforce.
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.”