Women Are Nearly 3 Times Less Likely Than Men to Seek Tech Internships, Ways to Encourage More Women to Study CS, More Evidence That Women’s Underrepresentation in Tech Is Also about Culture, Algorithms for Hiring, Helping Women Advance in Cybersecurity
Study Finds That Women Are Nearly Three Times Less Likely Than Men to Seek Internships in Tech
According to a new study from Looksharp, the owners of the online tool InternMatch, women are nearly three times less likely to seek tech industry internships than men, with 12.6 percent of female students preferring a tech industry internship compared with 36.6 percent of male students. The results, discussed in a recent GeekWire article, indicate that the problem of diversity in tech appears to be occurring even before candidates officially enter the workforce.
Overall, technology is the most likely industry for students to find an internship; however, the tech industry is also less likely to pay interns than some other industries.
The Looksharp survey, completed by more than 45,000 current and former students, found that marketing, PR, and advertising internships were more desirable than technology internships. The entertainment industry and government internships were also more attractive than tech, but the tech sector offered more students positions, with 13.5 percent of students interning at a tech firm.
Female students preferred marketing, entertainment industry, editorial and healthcare internships more than males. In addition to tech, men also preferred financial, consulting, and manufacturing internships.
According to the survey, students with a variety of majors have interned at tech companies. However, computer science majors are more likely than any other major, except engineering, to get paid for an internship.
NCWIT’s website offers several resources with additional information on statistics and trends for women’s participation in IT, including the following:
- NCWIT’s Women in IT: By the Numbers
- NCWIT Scorecard: A Report on the Status of Women in Information Technology
Ways to Encourage More Women to Study Computer Science
In a recent Newsweek opinion piece, Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe wrote about the struggle to increase the participation of women in computer science and the strategies her school has employed to boost the number of female computer science majors from an average of 10 percent in 2007 to an average of 40 percent since 2011.
Key among the strategies were redesigning the school’s introductory computer science courses to focus more on creative problem-solving than on straight programming and splitting the introductory course into two sections: one for students with prior programing experience and the other for those without. Both initiatives helped to create an atmosphere more supportive of women. Shifting the focus of homework from individual assignments to team-based projects also helped to make the courses more fun. With these changes, the introductory course became the most popular course in the department, instead of the least favorite.
Klawe notes that despite the advances made at her school, and the fact that other institutions are beginning to adopt similar approaches, much work remains to be done to increase the presence of women in computer science as well as the diversity of the field in general.
“I think the world will be an incredibly exciting place and we will see amazing technological developments when we create a much more diverse tech community,” she concludes.
NCWIT offers its own comprehensive look at trends in girls' and women's participation in computing in the U.S. over time, providing a benchmark for measuring progress and identifying areas for improvement in its comprehensive report titled “NCWIT Scorecard: A Report on the Status of Women in Information Technology.” In addition to the full report, key slides and charts from individual sections are available for download to include in your own presentations, proposal, and reports.
More Evidence That Women’s Underrepresentation in Tech Is about Company Culture and Not Just the Pipeline
A new analysis released by LinkedIn calls into question the claim that the gender disparity in the tech industry is simply a problem of having too few females in the pipeline. Examining millions of profiles across a dozen industry groups, the authors found that industries outside of technology tended to employ more female software engineers than did the tech industry. For example, in the healthcare industry, women accounted for approximately 32% of software engineers, compared to only 20% in the technology industry. Even in banking, another industry long criticized for its attitudes toward women, females accounted for about 25% of software engineers.
Among sectors within the tech industry, LinkedIn found that IT and e-learning engineering jobs had the most women, while network security and gaming had the fewest. A recent article on Fusion summarizes additional findings from the study.
Though the study was limited to users of LinkedIn, it nonetheless provides evidence that the lack of women in technology fields is about more than just the pipeline. Establishing organizational and industry cultures that are better able to recruit and retain female talent is also vital.
NCWIT’s website offers a number of resources to help companies create these kinds of cultures, including the following:
- NCWIT Tips for Startup Members
- Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing a Diverse Technical Workforce: Data Collection and Strategic Planning Guidelines
- Supervising-in-a-Box Series: Full Series
Can an Algorithm Hire Better Than a Human?
A recent New York Times Upshot article considered the idea of whether using algorithms instead of humans in the hiring process could help companies find better matches. It references a number of new startup companies, including Gild, Entelo, Textio, and Doxa, that are attempting to automate the hiring process in various ways with the goal of making it faster, less expensive, more effective, and even more diverse.
Advocates of the automated approach believe that using software can eliminate the often-unconscious biases and predilections that lead to people to make decisions based more on similarities between them and those being interviewed, such as having a friend in common or having gone to the same school, than on the actual job requirements.
Critics of the approach contend that algorithms cannot be expected to understand people the way humans can, with the ability to sense passion in a candidate and having a gut feel about a person being two examples of human abilities that can’t be matched by software.
According to those who study hiring, data such as that produced by these various algorithms is just one tool for recruiters to use, and they stress that human expertise is still necessary. People are also needed to help ensure that the algorithms aren’t just systematizing existing subtle biases or, by finding applicants with certain attributes, making workplaces just as homogeneous as they were before.
While such software is interesting to consider as a potential aide for recruiting and hiring employees, it's important to be mindful that even seemingly objective software tools can have subtle biases built into them. We all should continue to work on multiple avenues for identifying and mitigating unconscious bias and institutional barriers. NCWIT offers a number of resources to help companies attract and retain a diverse technical workforce, including Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing a Diverse Technical Workforce: Data Collection and Strategic Planning Guidelines and NCWIT Tips for Writing Better Job Ads.
Cybrary and WIT Partner to Help Women Advance in Cybersecurity
CIO.com recently reported that IT Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform Cybrary and Women in Technology (WIT), a professional organization for women in the technology field, have joined forces with a goal of addressing the shortage of cybersecurity professionals and a lack of women in technology.
"Our mission is to provide comprehensive IT and cybersecurity training options for underserved and disadvantaged people seeking to break into cybersecurity or advance in their current jobs,” noted Cybrary CEO and Founder Ryan Corey. “This partnership is a great way to kill two birds with one stone -- to address both the cybersecurity talent shortage and address the gender gap that exists in IT fields," he added.
According to Corey, the pilot program with WIT will make Cybrary's enterprise training platform, which includes extensive security education, available at no cost to WIT members to help advance women and girls in the IT and cybersecurity industries. Through the pilot program Cybrary will provide unlimited licenses to WIT, allowing members access to premium and executive-level content that would normally be available only through a paid subscription model based on number of user licenses.
Cybrary's enterprise training platform will also support a number of other collaboration efforts within WIT, including WIT's Workforce Development Committee and CyberSecurity Special Interest Group; the expansion of the Girls in Technology CyberGirls training program for the CyberPatriot High School Competition; and support of the Cornerstone initiative, which helps to bring computer literacy to refugee women.
NCWIT offers a case study series titled “How Do You Retain Women Through Inclusive Pedagogy?” that provides instructional practices to help level the playing field and improve the retention of underrepresented students in computing courses.