Early interaction with technology, more information about job opportunities and support from parents and role models are among the actions that will encourage more girls to consider tech as a career option, according to CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the technology industry.
CompTIA today released Make Tech Her Story: What Needs to Change to Inspire Girls’ Pursuit of IT Careers. The e-book and the companion website Make Tech Her Story are the centerpieces of a new awareness campaign to inspire tech industry leaders, educators, parents and, most importantly, girls to make the industry more gender inclusive.
“Achieving greater gender diversity in our industry requires major changes in the ways girls interact with and learn about technology,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO, CompTIA. “It will take a concerted, collaborative effort and long-term commitment by parents and role models, teachers and counselors and, most importantly, industry mentors, who can convey their passion about working in tech to future generations.”
More than 5.1 million people worked in core technology jobs in the U.S. at the end of 2015, but just 25 percent of those jobs were held by women.
New CompTIA-commissioned research, based on a survey and focus groups of girls between the ages of 10 and 17, identifies several critical factors that discourage girls from considering careers in tech.
- Parents play a key role in introducing technology – Girls and boys agree that parents and guardians are the primary source for finding out what IT stands for. But boys are more likely to begin using mobile devices at an earlier age, at five years old or younger, than girls (11 percent vs. 5 percent). Boys are also slightly more likely to explore the inner workings of tech devices out of curiosity (36 percent vs. 30% of girls).
- Girls’ interest in technology lessens with age – Nearly half of boys have considered a tech career, compared to less than one-quarter of girls. Among middle school girls, 27 percent have considered a career in technology. By high school this figure drops to 18 percent.
- Tech classes aren’t enough –Girls who have taken a technology class are only slightly more likely to have considered an IT career (32 percent). Less than half of girls who’ve taken these courses are confident their skills are right for the job.
- Girls lack awareness about career opportunities – Of girls who have not considered an IT career, 69 percent attribute this to not knowing what opportunities are available to them. More than half (53 percent) say additional information about career options would encourage them to consider a job in IT.
- Girls need role models in the industry – Just 37 percent of girls know of someone with an IT job. This rises to 60 percent among girls who have considered an IT career.
Women have played essential and vital roles throughout the history of computing and technology, from pioneering programmers such as Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper and the ENIAC Girls, to today’s leaders at Facebook, YouTube, HP, Alphabet, Xerox and other companies.
“There are young women and girls in colleges, high schools, middle schools and grade schools that, with the right education and guidance, will be equally capable of doing great things,” said Carolyn April, senior director, industry research CompTIA. “Our responsibility is to encourage them and to help them reach their full potential.”
Rosie Returns to Duty
To support the Make Tech Her Story campaign, CompTIA has called on Rosie the Riveter, the cultural icon associated with the women who joined the workforce during World War II. But instead of working in munitions factories and shipyards, Rosie circa 2016 is building mobile apps, managing the Internet of Things and keeping cyber assets safe and secure.
Rosie the IT Worker is featured prominently on Make Tech Her Story website. Visitors can build their own personalized Rosie avatar, participate in a social media photo-sharing promotion, watch a moving video featuring one-on-one interviews with young girls, access career resources and contribute to the next chapter in the history of women and the IT industry.
The research commissioned by CompTIA includes data from four focus groups held in the Chicagoland area with a total of 37 middle and high school girls between 10 and 17 years-old; and an online survey of 200 girls and 200 boys in the same age range. The free e-book is available at www.comptia.org/MakeTechHerStory.