In some industries, female employees tend to drop off around middle management or the C-level, but for the technology industry, its gender problem starts right at the entry level -- and gets worse from there.
According to a new McKinsey & Co. study, tech follows only the automotive and industrial manufacturing and energy and basic materials industries in the ranking of those sectors unable to attract women for entry-level positions. Software and hardware tech companies have an average of 37% women in entry-level jobs, compared to around half in other industries, and the numbers continue to decline. In middle management at tech companies, 25% of employees are women and only 15% are in the C-suite.
The tech industry is well aware of its entry-level challenges. As Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s Head of Research Sara Mazur pointed out earlier this week, there are often not a lot of female PHDs to recruit from for an organization that sees that degree as a requirement. Women may also be turned off of applying for tech companies when they don't see themselves represented at the manager and C-level, a factor that tends to make this a vicious cycle. (See Ericsson Seeks Female PhDs to Define the Future and More Women in Tech Is Critically Important.)
McKinsey also suggests that some companies struggle to recruit diverse candidates because of their own flawed practices. The firm highlighted companies that use advanced analytics to remove gender bias in the resume screening process, provide bias training for managers involved in recruiting or that are partnering with universities that are cultivating talent early as a way to start to rectify the issue. (See Grace Hopper: Power to the Pipeline .)
"These companies can succeed by investing to improve the overall talent pool and focusing their efforts on achieving greater diversity within their recruitment processes," the study finds. (See McKinsey: Women Less Likely to Advance at Work.)
The lack of women reaching the top at tech companies also appears to stem from a number of institutional, cultural and personal reasons. McKinsey's survey of 900 male and female employees across 26 tech companies found that 38% of women in tech feel their gender will make it difficult for them to advance in the future, and 60% say stress and pressure are two reasons they might not want to make it all the way to the top. (See 40% of Minority Tech Engineers Report Experiencing Bias.)
Of note in the study, McKinsey does break out the media and telecom industry together, and it appears the two sectors do a better job at the entry level, although share tech's troubles with promotion and retention. McKinsey says media and telecom have 47% of women in entry-level positions, 40% in middle management and 25% in the C-suite.
— Sarah Thomas, , Director, Women in Comms