Lack of Mentorship Hobbles Women in Tech

New research from nonprofit firm Catalyst suggests that women who earn their MBA are far less likely than men to use that degree within a “tech intensive” industry.

According to the firm’s latest survey, any blame for a lack of women in tech-intensive industries shouldn’t rest with the education system, which is the frequent target of executives who complain about gender discrepancy in tech; instead, women decline to participate in those industries due to a lack of role models, concerns over how their performance will be measured, and “feeling like an outsider.” Some 53 percent of women surveyed left the industry after their first post-MBA job, compared to 31 percent of men.

Despite receiving an equal education in the intricacies of modern business, Catalyst added, some 55 percent of women reported starting out at an entry-level position in their first tech-intensive industry job, versus 39 percent of men.

While the Catalyst study blamed the discrepancy on a number of factors, data collected by other firms still suggests the education system has something to do with it, by not encouraging enough women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees. A 2012 study by the National Institute of Science found that only 15.1 percent of women intended to pursue a STEM major, while a mere 0.4 wanted to earn a computer-science degree. Numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2013 suggested that women not only occupy a distinct minority of computer-science jobs, but that their presence in the field has declined over the past twenty years.

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Still another study heaped a load of blame for the lack of women on hiring managers within the tech industry. “Studies that seek to answer why there are more men than women in STEM fields typically focus on women’s interests and choices,” Ernesto Reuben, assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School, wrote in a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February. “This may be important, but our experiments show that another culprit of this phenomenon is that hiring managers possess an extraordinary level of gender bias when making decisions and filling positions, often times choosing the less qualified male over a superiorly qualified female.”

Whatever the cause, it’s clear that work remains to be done if tech-intensive companies want to create more balance among their respective staffs. In the meantime, Catalyst has a nifty infographic that breaks down its data:


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Image: Catalyst

6 Responses to “Lack of Mentorship Hobbles Women in Tech”

  1. I find that this article is very well written but personally the major tenet of having a role model to succeed in a field doesn’t ring true with me. If I waited for a role model to appear every time I wanted to do something I probably wouldn’t have done very much. Since I didn’t allow for such impediments I found myself in a leadership position on multiple occasions. My advice to all women who might be feeling that they have an innate aptitude in the technical arena: Be your own role model.

    • I agree with you. Raw Model has nothing to do with capabilities to do science in college or the Feeling of Being an Outsider. Just do the work and that is it if the person can handle it.

  2. The problem with the studies done regarding women not entering the field of STEMS is not only that they don’t want; the problem is capabilities in the science fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc., as STEMS fields are saturated with science’s subjects and not only women, but men as well do not get the education in High School which might enable them to pursue a technical carrier in college. I recall when I was an engineering student that lots of guys just dropped out from engineering because they could not handle the mathematics and science subjects and transferred to the business administration (BA) school and even though the math is very limited in the BA field still they had problems handling subjects such as Statistics for business and QBA (Quantitate Business Analysis). So, it is not just a matter of pursuing a STEMS carrier but the capability to handle the work involved in sciences.

  3. Hopefully dice folks will mention or admit some day how difficult it is even for men with IT background to stay in the IT field too.
    Software gets more complicated, automated, jobs off-shored. That is not simply an explanation for young people to avoid the field. It’s sometimes quite difficult to stay in it…