Women in tech: what women want

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In the next decade, more than 75 percent of jobs in the U.S. will require technical skills. With such a big percentage of future jobs revolving around tech,  it's imperative that we look at why such a low percentage of those jobs are currently filled by women. We teamed up with Women Who Code to find out why, but we wanted to find out from the source--so, we asked women in tech what they want and how to improve technical career paths for future female techies.

Our joint survey polled more than 1,500 women working in tech to find out why women aren’t filing more technical jobs. While many factors contribute to this, we wanted to know which challenges women face and what changes might help solve those problems. Here are the main findings according to women who work in tech. 

Top challenges for women in tech

Responses showed that women in tech careers are running into a number of obstacles that affect their long-term career trajectory. Lack of opportunities for advancement and “imposter” syndrome in a male-dominated workplace top the lists. 

Certain challenges seem to be more pronounced for female leaders. 70 percent of women in leadership roles (from senior manager to C-level) felt they faced advancement challenges compared to 50 percent in mid-level positions or below.

Additionally, women in leadership roles reported being held back by male-dominated work environments at more than twice the rate of individual contributors (19 percent vs. 8 percent).

Women in leadership positions also echoed the need for more female role models, indicating that they believe their teams would be more successful with the addition of more women.

Furthermore, this confidence gap seems to impact how women in the formative years of their careers (20s and 30s) negotiate workplace dynamics, such as asking for a raise or promotion. While more than 20 percent of respondents in this age group aspire to a vice president or C-level position, more than 50 percent felt uncomfortable asking for a raise and nearly 50 percent felt uncomfortable asking for a promotion. Across all age groups, only 25 percent were comfortable asking for a raise.

So, with the challenges and issues women in tech experience, what are the solutions? 

What women in tech want

In addition to highlighting challenges women face once they enter technology careers, the study also looked at what women need to get into technology fields in the first place. Women cited the solutions below as a way to get more females into technical careers.

  • Flexible work schedules
  • More female role models
  • Better visibility into the range of careers available
  • Mentors
  • Financial incentives to train or re-train for a career in technology

Half of respondents agree that balancing career and their personal life is challenging. In addition, these findings follow the previous theme of the need for more female role models/mentors. Building a female-friendly culture, as Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard explains, would also help women in tech feel more inclusive and essential to the industry. 

Additionally, this survey suggests that while women view STEM education as important, only 1 in 10 women said STEM education was the most important factor to make tech more inviting to women, which is contrary to the prevailing notion of women and STEM education.

As Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, explains, “It’s imperative that the industry as a whole become a more welcoming and inclusive place for women who have been drastically underrepresented to date. Providing women every available opportunity and resource to succeed is crucial – both for their well being, and for the stability of the economy.”

We hope that by shedding light on the problems that women in tech face, we can work together to find solutions and make tech a more inclusive place. Check out what some of Pluralsight's leading ladies have to say about making moves in the tech industry. 

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