By Scott Campbell
The numbers don’t lie: Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce but hold only about a quarter of tech jobs. Over the next 10 years, tech roles are expected to grow twice as fast as other sectors, offering exciting and rewarding careers for young people. But unless girls of today are engaged in tech pathways, tomorrow’s women will miss out on these opportunities.
So, what’s stopping girls from pursuing tech careers? And what can we do about it?
Overcoming the Misconceptions That Tech Is Boring, All-Math
As girls start to explore what the future will hold for them—often in middle school—many will have already self-selected out of tech pathways. Some simply may not know about the multitude of tech careers available, or others might believe that those careers aren’t interesting or suitable for them.
Unfortunately, misconceptions about jobs in tech persist—like tech is boring, tech is all about coding or that to work in tech you need to be a math or science whiz.
These myths can contribute to the “confidence gap,” especially for girls. Moreover, only 32% of girls say that tech jobs offer exciting, interesting work. Combating these misconceptions and exposing girls to a variety of tech skills and dynamic tech roles before they opt out of these career pathways is vital to keep their minds open to the multitude of rewarding opportunities in tech.
More Boys Than Girls Are Encouraged To Pursue Tech
Misconceptions about tech not only affect girls’ perceptions of tech careers, but also the perceptions of educators, parents and other adult champions. In fact, despite the fact that boys and girls perform equally in STEM education, boys are still more likely to be encouraged to pursue a STEM career (51% of boys vs. 41% of girls). These kinds of statistics show that it’s not only vital to engage girls around the opportunities in STEM, but others in their community too.
Parents, Adult Champions Can Be Part of the Solution
It’s not just the false perceptions of students that may be holding girls back from pursuing tech pathways. Parents, caregivers and other adults may not know about the rewarding opportunities in the tech industry, or they believe many myths about tech themselves. For example:
- They may not be comfortable with technology
- They may not be actively aware of the gender disparities around tech and why girls may need some additional support pursing tech interests
- They may subconsciously push girls toward jobs more traditionally filled by women
CompTIA Spark research indicates that parents have a significant influence on their children’s career decisions — and that the myths and misunderstandings parents may have about tech could be diverting students away from even considering careers in tech.
It Takes a Collective Effort To Diversify the Tech Workforce
So, how do we encourage more girls to explore the opportunities in tech? That burden doesn’t fall on any one group’s shoulders. Commitment from parents and guardians, educators and school districts, tech companies, and tech education initiatives like CompTIA Spark and its TechGirlz program are all important individually. But if all of these groups can work together, the results can be even greater.
Three Steps To Help Close the Gender Gap in Tech
1. Provide opportunities for tech exploration and meaningful role models
Focused efforts to enhance inclusive tech education curriculum in schools can help expose students to a variety of tech skills and pathways in an engaging and dynamic way — including girls who may be less likely to seek out these topics.
Offerings designed specifically for girls go one step further, create a safe and supportive environment for them to explore tech concepts, expand budding interests and build their confidence. It’s also vital for girls to hear from women who are succeeding in the industry, offering role models that strengthen their belief that the tech industry is for people like them.
2. Meet girls where they are
The technology industry certainly doesn’t stand still, and neither should tech education. It needs to be responsive to new innovations and demands in the market but also meet students where they are. Finding the right lessons, instructors and messaging to attract young people, especially girls, is critical.
3. Provide programming created specifically for girls
The TechGirlz program, powered by CompTIA Spark, has found success using the model of fun and exciting programming created specifically for girls. Since 2010, the TechGirlz program has served more than 40,000 middle school girls, including more than 5,500 last year alone through almost 300 workshops. The structure of a girls-only environment helps participants to develop interests and feel more confident while studying a variety of tech subjects from learning what’s inside a computer to more advanced topics like programming languages, robotics, augmented reality, cybersecurity and more.
CompTIA Spark is the social impact arm of CompTIA, the world’s leading IT industry association; it’s this connection that means TechGirlz curriculum is developed by industry experts, always up-to-date with the latest tech developments and offered free to participants to make high-quality tech education available to all girls – regardless of their background.
The results speak for themselves—TechGirlz participants and members of its teen advisory board have racked up impressive national awards and scholarships and have gone on to successful tech careers.
TechGirlz is a valuable resource to help middle school girls feel inspired and motivated to explore technology. And it now has a fresh new look that truly represents the spirit of the program and the amazing girls it serves.
Learn more about the TechGirlz program today and help empower more girls to be tomorrow’s technology leaders.