The shortage of women in computer science is no secret. It’s been a hot topic in recent years, with numerous organizations and campaigns rallying to increase the number of women in jobs related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). President Barack Obama even made women in STEM jobs a focus of his administration. Even tech tycoons like Facebook and LinkedIn have joined the conversation.
But the facts remain. While women make up nearly half of the job market, they held just 26 percent of technology jobs in 2013, according to the National Center for Women in Information Technology. Microsoft predicts around 1.4 million tech jobs will open in the U.S. by 2018, yet only 29 percent will be filled by women.
Marci McCarthy, CEO of T.E.N., can personally attest to the recruiting efforts being used to attract female applicants. “Women can benefit from being the minority in a predominately male field,” she says. “In fact, being a woman gives you an edge!”
So why aren’t more women capitalizing on this opportunity? Many are steering clear of computer science careers because of some false assumptions they have about the industry.
We connected with some prominent female tech professionals who are understandably passionate about this issue. Here is what they had to say.
Common myths keeping women from computer science jobs:
1. Computer science jobs don’t help people
Females are typically more interested in pursuing a career in which they can help others, according to a study by the Girl Scouts of America. This is why we see a surplus of women in fields like nursing and teaching. Computer scientists may not have as direct of an impact on the lives of others, but they play an instrumental role in many areas of society—health care and education included.
“Not all technology jobs are about making the next big dollar or ranking number one in the Apple store,” says Ayanna Howard, chief technology officer at Zyrobotics. Her company specializes in designing smart mobile technologies to enable educational play opportunities for children with special needs.
“It’s hard to beat the personal satisfaction you get when a mom becomes tearful after using your technology with her child,” Howard says. She feels fortunate to be able to use her passion for technology to make a difference in the lives of children.
2. Men are more quantitative thinkers than women
“This one is easy because it’s simply not true,” says Kristin Smith, CEO of Code Fellows. In fact, women tend to take just as many advanced math courses as their male counterparts from middle school through college, often achieving higher grades, according to a Cornell University study. This suggests it’s choice—not ability—that deters women from math-intensive careers.
“Both sexes are equally capable of objective, quantitative thought process.”
To read the rest of this article, published by Rasmussen College, please click here.