Underrepresentation of Women Bad News for Tech Startups

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Despite the fact that 200,000 new tech jobs were formed in 2016, women are still severely underrepresented in the industry. Startups are popping up all over the country, and in California in particular, but recent studies have shown that the majority of women in tech would rather work anywhere else. Startups have somehow managed to isolate women even more than the tech industry has in the past.

A recent study by Women Who Code (WWC) in partnership with Pluralsight reveals that there are several reasons few women are interested in joining the many freshly budding startup companies.

One reason is simply that women are not as interested in the benefits that startups are likely to offer employees. Larger companies are more inclined to offer flexible work schedules, while startups usually offer benefits that highlight stock options.

WWC CEO Alaina Percival suggests that women value their spare time more and are more “interested in nurturing other aspects of their lives.”

Flexible hours relate to the amount of time a person can spend with her family. Percival argues that this is a major reason why women are showing little interest in startup lifestyles. Unfortunately, the United States has no federally mandated maternity leave, so companies that can offer this benefit are more attractive to mothers.

Simply put, startups do not always share the same values held by many women in the workforce.

Percival finds this troubling, saying, “What we want to do, especially through this report, is let those companies know — because those companies absolutely want to hire the 50,000 technical women from our organization — let them know that these are the kinds of things that women value and if you can put them in place faster, you’re more likely to attract women engineers.”

As it stands now, sexism is alive and well in the tech industry. Almost 50% of respondents in the study reported that they thought it was more likely for a man to get promoted than a woman. Percival notes that women are being marginalized by passive and subtle forms of sexist behavior. Data reveals that women are leaving the tech industry mid-career at a staggering rate of 56%, which is much higher than their male counterparts.

There is a severe lack of female leadership among tech companies. Women are discouraged from seeking managerial roles and are almost always paid a lower salary than men despite their level of experience. In reality, unbalanced or lack of managerial experience is the reason 30% of all businesses fail. Perhaps it is time companies take action to abolish such ingrained sexist ideas and actively work towards pursuing stronger female representation in the tech industry.

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