Tech Industry Needs to Promote Women Faster

Technology companies are among the worst when it comes to promoting women into positions of power, according to a Thomson Reuters survey of women in management between 2005 and 2010.

What’s even more troubling is that the companies surveyed seem extremely reluctant to reveal the numbers or discuss them. Only nine of the 254 tech companies surveyed shared the breakdown of women in their management teams, and from that data, researchers found that in 2010, only 15 percent of management positions in tech companies were held by women, compared to 33 percent in financial services and 34 percent in healthcare and consumer goods companies.

Some notes from the survey:

The glass ceiling still exists. There are many disparities, geographically and by industry, as to the extent to which companies track progress on breaking through the glass ceiling and the rate of that progress.

Three industries—financials, healthcare, and energy—do far better than most of their peers when it comes to offering women managerial posts. The most striking progress in breaking through the glass ceiling within the five-year time frame studied appears to have taken place within the financial services industry, where women have moved to 33 percent from 28 of executive positions.

Compare that to tech, which had women in 13 percent of executive positions in 2005 and just 15 percent in 2010. Tech ties for lowest female executive success of all the sectors covered by the study. High-profile female leaders at companies like HP, Facebook, and Google are the exception, not the rule.

It seems clear that the traditionally male-dominated tech industry needs to take a good long look at that glass ceiling.

The full report is available here. (Free registration required.)

No Responses to “Tech Industry Needs to Promote Women Faster”

  1. I write code


    The thing the author misses, is that in IT and most STEM positions covered by Dice, almost *nobody* is promoted to positions of power. The only way in is to be a founder. If women aren’t founding their own companies, is that a glass ceiling?

    Such as it is, middle management is majority female these days, project managers, analysts, even directors of XYZ. The problem is that these are titles only, they (apparently) don’t really have any real power anymore.

    The reason these positions go female is that they require more soft skills, which women have, and there are almost no women available for the tech jobs, so to balance staff gender, women are heavily favored for these kinds of positions.

    I’ve worked mostly in finance for several years now, and there seems a fair representation of women even at the highest levels, if the article says about 33%, that sounds about right for what I’ve seen, probably fits with the overall proportion of women in the IT organizations, I’m sure there are endless lawyers making sure of it.

  2. At the risk if irritating someone, I’ll ask the question “Why must tech companies promote women faster?” Because it’s the only fair thing to do? Please. Promotions should be based on merit not because the field needs to be made level. If it can be proved that qualified women are being denied promotion while unqualified men are being promoted I’ll agree that’s unacceptable.

    • James Green

      Well Mike at the risk of irritating you white men get hired and promoted rountinely without merit. They are buddy buddy with the vice president and they get promoted. And even if the promotion is based on merit, white men are high profile assignments base on the perception they do the job. If the project fails no big deal they will be given another opportunity, if they succeed the will be printed. This not the same for blacks and suspect women. If a black man is given a high profile project and it fails he is done and his career is. If he succeeds he still had a job. This inconvient but true.

  3. IT worker

    With all the companies discriminating against US Citizens in favor of H1B visa holders, the glass ceiling is not against holding women back from getting promoted. The real glass ceiling is keeping US Citizens out of the jobs – black, white, men, women, etc.

    • Proud Paulbot

      I agree. The discrimination is not against women, but against anyone who is not an H-1B holder. (Even if you’re a green card holder, companies won’t want you, because you’re not an indentured servant; you have choices and options.)

      As I said in my other post, I think that, possibly, women are more likely than men to decide that tech is impossible to get into, then focus on getting work in another field.

  4. I disagree did the thought ever cross the surveyors mind that maybe there were no qualified women in those nine companies? Managment should be based on merit not the number of each gender in those roles.

  5. Proud Paulbot

    I’m a white woman who got a degree in Math & Computer Science last May. Not only can I not obtain even an entry-level STEM job, I’ve been told I’m unemployable in IT.

    I’m walking dogs and doing white-collar (non-tech) contract work. I’m a 21st century “General Laborer.”

    That said, me being a woman has nothing to do with me being unemployable in IT. The fact that employers refuse to train new STEM graduates–preferring to hire H-1B’s–is at fault.

    I’ve long since given up on getting a tech job. It does me no good to bang my head against a wall; it just means I’ll lose everything I have financially. Maybe women are more likely than men to say, “Forget it,” and spend their time trying to get work in non-tech fields.