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There was a higher percentage of women in tech roles in the 80s than today

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Research has shown that the tech industry may be evolving backwards, as women have been pushed out over the years. These trends have slightly turned around in recent years, but there is still more to be done.


In the US, less than one in five hi-tech employees are women, despite making up half of the workforce, according to research by Jennifer Gregory.

“While researching this article, I was shocked to discover that the percentage of women in tech was actually higher in the 1980s than it is today. And, according to tech leader Judith Spitz, technology is the only STEM career in which the number of women has decreased in the last 20 years. Yes, the number of women has improved very recently. But it’s not enough,” said Gregory.

According to Gregory, low proportions of women in tech roles don’t just disadvantage the employer but hurt the economy, women, and everyone who uses technology.

“Every person in the tech industry – not just those in leadership or hiring roles – shares the responsibility and challenge of solving the gender divide in tech. Your words, your actions, and your inactions can make a difference, both positively and negatively,” she explained.

“After holding many different roles in the tech industry (technical writer, project manager, UX designer, content marketing writer), I’ve seen firsthand the impact that the underrepresentation of women has both on the industry and the tech products companies produce. Most importantly, I’ve seen amazingly talented women either leave the tech industry or never go into it because it’s a male-dominated field.”

The research highlighted some glaring trends. A third of women in tech roles have considered switching careers, women leave the industry at a 45 per cent higher rate than men, and half of tech start-ups have no women in leadership teams.

A major issue with these themes is exacerbated by the current and future state of the workforce. Every company will be somewhat digitised in the future of work. Some have claimed that every company, in on way or another, will be a tech company.

If women are being pushed out of roles and missing out on these essential skills, the whole workforce could suffer.

For employers, championing diversity and encouraging female participation should be considered. According to Gregory, leaders should care about these statistics because:

  • Technology is used by women: Technology touches all aspects of our lives, and everyone uses technology. To create the most effective and user-friendly technology, we need diversity in thought, perspective, and skills. Women and men often bring different strengths to the table, which means that if women are not represented, neither are their strengths or insights.
  • Technology offers high-paying professional positions: As more and more jobs involve technology, women who are not interested or qualified in the field reduce their prospects of high-paying positions.
  • Self-limiting proposition: The fact that there are fewer women in tech makes many women shy away from the industry, not wanting to be “the only one”. It also means that an unconscious bias may cause a man to hire men, which makes the gap even bigger.
Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.