Women in Management are Reaching the C-Suite

Posted by Emily Minnis on Oct 28, 2019 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, IT, Candidate

The number of women in C-Level positions in the tech industry has been increasing over the last few years. Women in management, such as Gerri Martin-Flickinger of Starbucks and Nancy Quan of Coca-Cola, have been taking on the coveted role of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  Several tech startups are also seeing women trail-blaze in leadership positions. In fact, AlleyWatch named five women startup leaders—Emily Weiss, Brynn Putnam, Nadia Boujarwah, Shan-Lyn Ma, and Elizabeth Galbutas 2019's Top 10 NYC Tech Influencers.

A Quick Look at the Status of Women in Tech

Despite these recent successes of women in management and technology, there remains a gap between women and men in C-level positions, with 85% of men occupying Chief Information Officers and CTO seats in companies. This situation reflects the low female enrollment rate in post-secondary computer science education over the last 40 years, according to the U.S. national data.

Though many assume that women don't seek to hold positions in the tech industry, research has shown that this isn't necessarily the case. Girls are typically interested in technology as early as 11 years old. However, that interest tends to drop significantly over the years as levels of encouragement and mentorship fall.

This lack of support also contributes to the wide gap between men and women taking tech education and tech roles. By the time students leave college and start their careers, women actually end up in only 25% of technology jobs. Of startups with at least one woman among the founding members, only 10% end up having a woman in the CTO position. And in startups without a woman in its founding members, only 6% have a female CTO.

Bringing More Women Into Technology

Schools like Worcester Polytechnic and Carnegie Mellon University have started focusing on women’s mentoring, increasing gender diversity specifically within STEM fields. Both showed higher enrollment of women in computer science, with a 43% increase at Worcester and a 48.5% increase at Carnegie Mellon.

The effect in real-world positions has been evident, too. Research has shown that in a group of 22,000 businesses, going from zero women in C-suite roles to having 30% of these roles filled by women ended up increasing profitability by 15%.

With this kind of opportunity for success, tech companies are beginning to shift to a more inclusive culture for the CTOs of the future. One such organization is Unacast, a data company that changed both their culture and hiring processes and ended up growing its engineering staff to 42.9% women. By addressing culture and bringing more women into the company, Unacast is striving to nurture individuals who could soon take on C-suite positions or go on to form their own startups.

Other tech industry leaders are following suit, with more organizations stepping back to rethink their own culture and hiring processes to support women in these higher-level technical roles. Companies are following in the footsteps of tech industry leaders and promoting gender diversity with more women in management. 

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