Technology Gender Gap By State

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This is my first ever guest blog post. Take it away Hazel Garcia.

Though the gender gap narrows by the year, there remains a noticeable lack of balance in the professional workplace. This gap reflects in everything from gender-based pay scale discrepancies to the ratio of women to men in the workforce. Interestingly, the gap varies by region, though it significantly impacts the professional gender balance all fifty states.

The gender gap displays quite prominently in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, despite a growing number of young female graduates who carry all of the qualifications that their male counterparts possess. Still, highly qualified female candidates in STEM fields frequently find themselves passed over in favor of similarly, or even less qualified male candidates.

Despite overwhelming evidence showing the harm done to the companies themselves by gender discrimination, corporations around the world persist in overlooking qualified candidates based on gender. Corporate investments can take many forms, and the active pursuit of the most highly qualified candidates, regardless of gender, should rank highly in simple methods to improve the bottom line.

Instead, many female graduates in STEM fields find continued problems in breaking into the fields they spent years studying and preparing for. Having so many top-notch professionals sitting around at home and scrounging for ways to make an extra few dollars represents a tragic waste of resources.
Analyzing the geographic differences in the gender imbalance raises some interesting questions, as the data shows several clear, regional trends. With no doubt countless variables contributing, it’s hard to argue with the larger gaps in regions known to hold strongly patriarchal traditions, which also tend to correlate with strongly religious regions of the country.

Take a look at the infographic here. The strong possibility that you’re overlooking the ideal candidate for that new position, because she happens to be female, should present significant motivation to reassess hiring practices.

Thank you Hazel.

This guest post came about through a few emails we exchanged regarding some of my posts earlier regarding women in technology. Hazel showed me what she’s been working on and it dove-tailed so nicely with my own attempts at learning about data analysis, interest in understanding what’s going on with women in technology, etc., that when she offered to write something up, I couldn’t turn her down (like I usually do, and will return to doing, don’t get ideas).

I really did find this information fascinating and I wanted to share. Thanks again Hazel.


  • It would be interesting to see if have any statistics on the number of male versus female applicants for those positions alongside the data presented above. Whilst I agree that the data shows a significant gender gap, without seeing data on number of applicants it’s difficult to directly equate that to conclude that women are passed over for positions in favour of men. This is not to say I’m disputing that happens at all; just that the statistics provided simply show there is a discrepancy in gender in the workplace and don’t necessarily back up the notion that highly qualified women are being passed over.

    Looking at the more narrow field of databases, and moving into more anecdotal evidence, the last positions I was involved in recruiting for had no female candidates, which in itself is worrying. To be honest, if any female candidates had applied, they would probably have been MORE likely to have been selected, even if they were not has highly skilled as other candidates.

    I’ll not deny that almost every IT department I’ve worked in has been a sausage-fest, nor that when I turn up to community events the vast majority of people attending are male. All of this perpetuates a male dominated IT sector; men gain the experience and the sheer number of men employed in the IT sector arguably makes that daunting for women to approach as a career choice.

    Is this still all down to age old stereotyping? Or are there other factors that influence the subject matters that people of both genders decide to pursue?

    • I don’t have a single answer for you. I can make a point. In the book Naked Statistics, the whole idea of the wage gap was addressed. When variables were controlled for, the gender wage gap all but disappeared. It’s possible that there are variables that must be controlled for to arrive at a more complete picture here as well.

      The reason I bring this up within my own blog is just because the whole women in tech gap runs counter to my lived experience. I came into the field when there was near parity and things have declined. I don’t know why. In fact, that’s where my curiosity takes me. Why does the gap that Hazel documents exist? I don’t know, but I’d sure like to.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      • Suzy

        What an intriguing comment regarding the book “Naked Statistics” and the gender wage gap. I have not read it but found this excerpt online “We identify three proximate reasons for the large and rising gender gap in earnings: differences in training prior to MBA graduation; differences in career interruptions; and differences in weekly hours. These three determinants can explain the bulk of gender differences across the years following MBA completion”.

        This may be a wild assumption (and please feel free to correct me if so) but the second and to an extent the third reasons would be due to women having to take time off work for maternity and child care. So while this could “explain away” the wage gap it is still very much gender-specific and women are being punished financially for having children. If men and women took equal amounts of paternity/maternity leave (and were encouraged/enabled to do so by their employers) perhaps we’d see things balancing out.

        • Hello and thank you for commenting.

          I’m not about to correct an opinion because that’s yours and yours alone.

          On the wage gap, my opinion does differ. The issue as I see it is, any gap in your employment stalls your career and pay growth. Isolating this one gap, child rearing, for special dispensation, especially when it may be a gap of several years, seems unfair to other gaps that are also outside people’s control like an extended illness, injury, or issues along those lines. It also seems unfair to employers to have an employee who has 5 years of experience but is required by law to get paid as if they have 10 years of experience. It’s also unfair to those who have put in the work to arrive at the 10 years of experience. All those unfair points don’t apply to any particular gender either. In short, I’m not sure we can simply fix these types of problems without creating more since the root issue is the gap, not a direct prejudice against women.

          Personal story. I was in the Navy for four years right out of high school. It’s a proven fact that doing that puts you approximately four years behind your peers outside the military when you leave it. In short, I’m making now what people four years younger than me are making. It’s not the fault of the military though. It’s the gap and the change in careers. I was trained to run a nuclear power plant on a submarine and now I’m an IT professional. I had to learn those skills while other people my age were already working on their careers.

          I’m still back to the other issue. When I started in IT back in the 1980s, there was parity, male to female. My early career mentors were women. Over time, things shifted until we’re where we are today with a wild disparity. That feels wrong. It must be wrong. Some of it is, I’m sure, prejudice. How the heck do we fix that?

          • Suzy

            Thanks for the considered response. I wasn’t suggesting women (and other groups who have had time off) be given special dispensation. I was leaning more toward men and women being given equal pay and rights wrt to maternity/paternity leave. Here in the UK it is only recently (within the last 5 years) that it has been possible for both partners (whatever their gender) to divide this leave up however they want to, meaning both partners have equal opportunity to stay at work or stay at home with children. Prior to this new legislation the father was only granted 2 weeks off from work while the mother had up to 1 year at home.

            You make a good point about going into military service straight after highschool. Again from a UK perspective we do not have conscription so people who end up in the army/navy would be there by choice and likely for their career.

            When I started in my IT career it was late 1990s and already the gender gap was vast, so something must have happened in the early 90s! Can we blame rap music?

          • Oh, I agree on the leave. That should be there. It just won’t make up for the pay disparity when someone has stayed at home with the kids for three years.

            I’m fine with blaming rap music. And fluoride in the water too.

  • Dee

    I am a female who, like you, started back in the 1980s. Although, in my experience, there were many more men than women in the field, I only had a few experiences where my gender factored negatively in securing a position.

    That being said, I am watching in horror as my daughter is attempting to get through the educational system. She wants to be a network engineer and has been working towards this since she was in high school. Her high school required that all students perform an internship. She found a summer internship as a help desk analyst. The school did not want to approve it because the other females in her class had all secured internships in hospitals and schools, and it was believed, by the school, that these were much more appropriate internships for females. She was specifically told that her internship wouldn’t be relevant because her chances of actually working in IT were not very good. In addition, her internship was a paid internship, and she was told that the paid internship was unacceptable since it was unfair to the other students who had not secured a paid internship. It took a great deal of arguing with the school before her internship was approved.

    After high school, she went on to study at a local state college. She is now a senior. Fifty percent of the females that started freshman year have changed majors. The females are leaving because of the way they are treated by the students and faculty. A perfect example is a class she had that consisted mainly of group work. She was the only female in the class. After one of the first assignments, she went to the professor after she received a lower grade that the male members of her group – who all received the exact same grade as one another. The professor told her that he graded her harder than her male counterparts because, in the work force, she was going to have it more difficult than the males and he wanted to prepare her for the real world.

    My daughter has said that with the constant bombardment from faculty and students she would have changed majors had it not been that she grew up knowing that women can succeed in IT. After her first internship, the company liked her so much they hired her. From there, she has moved to a company where she is working part time as a network tech. She secured an internship this summer as a junior network engineer. Once again she had to fight with the school about the internship. It was stressed that she might be better focusing on programming than network engineering as a female.

    Although there is discrimination in the work force based on age, gender, size, race, etc., my anecdotal experience is that the female experience during her education is limiting the number of people coming into the STEM fields.

    • Holy GU!

      That’s a mess.

      Right, that’s exactly the kind of crap that has to be eliminated. I don’t know how to do it, but clearly it needs to be done. Also, that teacher is an idiot.

OK, fine, but what do you think?