Educating female students in the United States more effectively for entering tech oriented fields has more importance than simply creating a more equitable gender distribution in an industry that has largely been unisex. The economic consequences for neglecting this kind of education for female students could undermine the U.S’s competitive standing relative to other countries in the developed world. In 2015, there were 500,000 new computing jobs created in the U.S but fewer than 40,000 new computer science graduates. There will be an estimated 1 million more computing jobs than applicants qualified to fill them by 2020. The opportunity cost for not educating the next generation of female tech employees and innovators could be millions in lost revenue to the GDP of the U.S. Getting more women prepared for tech employment in the future is an economic necessity for the U.S.
Though significant funding has been expended on educational initiatives to incite more female involvement in tech, the movements to increase the female presence in tech and its coverage by common media outlets have failed to mention that there is a gap within the gap, so to speak. The widely accepted number of jobs held by women in the industry is 30%, but a closer look at the percentage of women actually filling engineering roles and more technical positions in the industry cuts that figure considerably. For five of the largest tech companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter) women occupied an average of a mere 15.6% of the technical positions. Data from an additional two companies indicates that women occupy only 22.5% of leadership positions at these tech companies.
The issue then is two-fold, getting women into tech and getting them into the substantive technical and leadership positions not only to even the gender playing field, but to resolve the void left by unfilled new tech positions. Bridging this educational and professional gap will demand a combination of engendering excitement in women to go into tech fields by breaking barriers of social expectations surrounding them, and skill based education to address the gap between mere employment in tech companies and meaningful, impactful positions for women in these companies. The pursuit to close the gender gap in tech is not just a social movement for equal representation but a necessity for keeping America economically competitive.