Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani at ReimagineHR in London (Gartner)
Across a variety of industries, the demand for talent with digital skills continues to outstrip the supply. In recent years, many companies have realized that one way to fill this skills gap is to address the significant gender imbalance in roles like software engineering, where men outnumber women three-to-one in the US and by even larger margins in other countries like the UK and China.
This hasn’t always been the case; women were the first programmers in the early days of computing, before coding was seen as a prestigious and lucrative profession. Yet the real shift toward programming being such a male-dominated profession is even more recent, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani pointed out in a keynote address at Gartner’s ReimagineHR event in London on Wednesday: In 1995, women made up almost 40 percent of the computing workforce in the US, whereas today, they make up less than 25 percent. And at a time when there are roughly 500,000 unfilled positions in computing in the US and as many as 700,000 in the UK, Saujani argued, the issue isn’t a question of gender parity for its own sake: companies need women in tech just as much as women deserve the opportunity to do these jobs.
So why are so few women taking jobs in computing? For one thing, the tech industry has developed a reputation as an unwelcoming work environment for women: Sexism and sexual harassment scandals have emerged at several major tech companies in the past two years, while women in tech say they are often pressured to cut short the leave they take when they start families, even as tech companies continue to offer world-class parental leave policies. To that end, bringing back women who left the workforce to raise children or care for aging relatives is one way companies are looking to close their tech talent gaps.
Yet a more fundamental obstacle, Saujani explained, comes much earlier in women’s lives.
Peter James Sampson/iStock
The accounting firm PwC has adopted a new rule in the UK whereby shortlists of candidates for senior roles must include at least one woman, the Daily Mail reported on Sunday:
Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC, said: ‘Diversity in our recruitment processes is something we’ve been focused on for some time and as part of this we are ensuring we have no all-male shortlists and more diverse interviewing panels.’
PwC, which specialises in tax and advisory services, recently set a target to recruit 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men in all of their recruitment drives. The firm also has a sizeable 35.9 per cent pay gap for its Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees. The move comes as it emerged that the three other companies which make up the Big Four – Deloitte, KPMG and EY – had all called for greater diversity on their candidate lists.
PwC and its competitors all released their UK gender pay gap data in March in line with a law requiring most organizations in that country to do so. These firms’ partnership structures starkly illustrated the degree to which the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles compounds the gender pay gap.: PwC reported a mean gender pay gap of 43.8 percent and a median gap of 18.7 percent when partners were included, whereas the mean gap for employees of PwC Services Ltd., the legal entity that employs most of the company’s UK workforce, was just 12 percent.
Overall, the 61.4 of the roles in the top quartile of the firm are occupied by men, the report showed. Absent the underrepresentation of women in senior roles, PwC said its overall UK pay gap would be as low as 2.9 percent—a difference that “can largely be explained by time in role and skill set factors.”
New figures released this week from the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that real wages there fell in the year to April 2017 by 0.4 percent, the BBC reports:
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said this was the first fall in three years. It says that although wages rose by 2.2% in the year, inflation rose by more, eroding any gains. The median – middle – amount earned was £550 a week. … The weekly income figure shows the first recorded fall since April 2014, and follows a rise in inflation in the wake of the Brexit vote in June last year.
Earnings, not adjusted for inflation, rose in 2017 by more among the lowest-paid workers. For those in the lowest 10%, full-time earnings rose by 3.5% compared with 2016.
Also, the statistics show the gender pay gap in the UK falling to its lowest level since the government began measuring it 20 years ago: 9.1 percent, down from 9.4 in 2016. That reflects the relative gains British workers made toward the bottom of the payscale, Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, tells Sky News:
Marie C Fields/Shutterstock
Huffington Post business reporter Emily Peck passes along a new report from the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, which finds that in the first four years out of college, female graduates earn an average hourly wage of $17.88, compared to $20.87 among men:
Put another way, young women make 86 percent of what men earn. That’s slightly better than in 2015, when the gap was 83 percent, but far worse than in 2000, when female college grads made 91 percent of what their male peers earned, according to EPI, which analyzed census data on college graduates ages 21 to 24 without an advanced degree and who aren’t enrolled in further schooling.
Though the EPI report didn’t delve more deeply into the numbers, it’s possible that the widening gulf is attributable to rising income inequality. The highest-paying jobs in the U.S. are paying even better, and men are landing that work. Think Facebook engineer, Goldman Sachs analyst, etc. “At the very top of the job market, pay is getting really high, and it’s men, primarily, who are getting those jobs,” Elise Gould, a senior economist at EPI who worked on this analysis, told HuffPost.
That interpretation aligns with other recent research from Glassdoor, which found that the sorting of men and women into different college majors contributed significantly to the gender pay gap, with men dominating the highest-paying fields and women making up most of the majors in the lowest-paying fields. Nonetheless, the same study also found gender gaps in pay and promotions within individual fields.
A study from the Center for American Progress last year also found that gender gaps among college-educated professionals emerge early in their careers and widen over time, and furthermore that this effect was even more pronounced among graduates of elite institutions.