February 22, 2019
How major companies are focusing on more diversity in the STEM workplace - and why it actually matters.
It's no secret that companies with more women in leadership roles tend to be more successful. According to a study by the National Center for Women and Information Technology, management teams with gender diversity performed better in terms of equity and overall growth.
And it makes sense; new and different voices are essential in appealing to a wide variety of consumers. Why, then, is gender diversity still lacking in the American job market?
Facts and Figures
According to a recent report entitled Diversity Matters, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their competitors.
Despite this fact, men still outnumber women four to one within STEM-specific jobs (science, technology, engineering and math).
While women make up approximately 51% of the US population, female employment at major tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook is 35% or less. On average, 76% of the tech workforce is male, and 95% is white. With Silicon Valley's rampant job growth, it's thought that there won't be enough qualified candidates to fill even a third of the positions by 2021 unless companies start to diversify.
So What's the Problem?
With such clear market research results, why aren't companies hiring more women? Some say it's because fewer minorities are applying for tech jobs. This may be the case, but perhaps it's worth asking ourselves why.
According to Forbes, it's likely that women are discouraged from applying somewhere along the way. Part of the problem may have to do with education. Since the early 1990s, white men have dominated computer science departments across American universities. Another issue may have to do with the way companies recruit new talent. Research suggests that recruiters may specifically be alienating women by using sexist humor or male-dominated language at recruitment events.
Incorporating more diversity into upper-level positions benefits not just the individual, but the company as well. New perspectives and diverse talent are essential for growth in today's changing marketplace. So what's the next step?
Luckily, many companies are making major efforts to give women the tools they need to succeed.
One example is The Braid Initiative, who has teamed up with Facebook, Microsoft and Harvey Mudd College to encourage universities to change the names of their Computer Sciences courses. When UC Berkeley changed the title of its intro Com-Sci class to “The Beauty and Joy of Computing," the number of female students who enrolled not only increased but outnumbered male students for the first time.
In addition, telecommunications companies like Cox, Charter and Comcast are working with WICT (Women in Cable Telecommunications) to place women into leadership roles. Together they've created the #leadwithmore campaign: Lead with more profits, morale, innovation, lead with women.
The tides are certainly turning, as more female voices are being heard in corporate America and beyond.
While there may still be a long way to go regarding diversifying on a mass scale, forward-thinking companies and initiatives like the #LeadWithMore campaign make this a very exciting time for women in the workplace.