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Tech Companies Embrace Gender Diversity in STEM Positions

To address the looming expertise shortage in IT and security, Global Risk Technologies said that it plans to increase the number of women it employs in technology positions to 25% of its workforce within the next 10 years. And, it's not alone.

“We intend to do our part in creating more opportunities for women in tech,” said Monica Eaton-Cardone, who serves as CIO of the company, which specializes in risk management and fraud detection. “That doesn’t mean our hiring decisions will be based solely on gender; as always, we’ll be looking for employees with hard skills and technical abilities, and promoting based on merit. But we plan to nurture those who show promise, giving them an opportunity to shine and prove themselves as equals.”

The news comes as a controversial memo circulates at Google, where the author notes multiple ways that he believes women are unfit for working in the tech sector—including “neuroticism” and a greater penchant for work-life balance than men. It’s an attitude that Google quickly distanced itself from, saying the screed does not represent the company’s stance on workplace diversity.

Also refuting the anti-diversity opinion is a 2017 report from GE saying that unfilled tech jobs are “holding back the growth of key industries and slowing economic development,” which poses a problem for US companies seeking to fill an estimated two million computing and engineering positions over the next decade. Many companies are turning to gender diversity to fill the gap, and the GE report suggests this is a savvy move: It cites numbers showing that closing the gender gap could increase the US gross domestic product (GDP) 10% by 2030. GE also emphasized the direct economic benefits to companies, with gender-diverse firms achieving up to 53% better financial performance and nearly $599 million more in average sales revenue than those employing fewer women.

Unsurprisingly, GE has set goals of having 20,000 women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) roles throughout the company by 2020, and achieving a 50:50 representation in all technical entry-level programs.

The key to meeting these goals is widely seen in broadening participation in STEM education. But, there’s a long way to go: According to the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, from April, women represent 46.8% of the labor force, but account for less than a quarter of computer, math and engineering occupations, and hold only one-fifth of computer sciences and engineering bachelor’s degrees.

Some colleges are already reporting greater gender diversity in their engineering and IT degree programs, suggesting that Generation Z shows great promise for the future of women in technology. And, some tech giants are also working to bring more females into the industry: Oracle has pledged $3 million to educate girls in STEM fields through the government’s Let Girls Learn initiative, while Google itself has invested $50 million to teach young girls how to code.

“Women have historically been underrepresented in technology careers. However, this is poised to change now that tech companies are actively courting females,” said Eaton-Cardone. “The current focus on educating girls in STEM should help ensure a greater pool of qualified candidates for tech jobs in the coming years.”

That said, some say that employers should keep an open mind when hiring; a recent Women in Cybersecurity report noted that less than half of female information security professionals working today have a background in IT or computer science.

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