New research reveals big gender gap in computing workforce

Efforts are underway to draw more girls into computer science
By Bernie Monegain
10:18 AM
Share

Accenture and Girls Who Code are working to draw more girls into computer science with efforts beginning in junior high school.

Research from Accenture and Girls Who Code is out with the classic good news, bad news regarding women in the computing workforce.

The bad news? The number of women in the U.S. computing workforce will decline from 24 percent to 22 percent by 2025, the research shows.

The good news is that efforts already underway to promote computer science education to girls could triple the number of women in computing to 3.9 million. That would translate into from 24 percent of women in computing today to 39 percent by 2025. Moreover, increasing the number of women in computing to that percentage would also boost women’s cumulative earnings by $299 billion.

Raising awareness is critical, the researchers note.

“Without action, we risk leaving a large portion of our country’s talent on the sidelines of the high-value computing jobs that are key to U.S. innovation and competitiveness,” according to the report “Cracking the Gender Code.”

Cracking the Gender Code measured how the factors influencing girls’ pursuit of computer sciences change at each stage of their education.

It recommends a more tailored and sequenced series of actions starting in junior high school and sustained through high school and college.

 “Despite unprecedented attention and momentum behind the push for universal computer science education, the gender gap in computing is getting worse,” Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, said in a statement. “The message is clear: a one-size-fits-all model won’t work. This report is a rallying cry to invest in programs and curricula designed specifically for girls. We need a new mindset and willingness to prioritize and focus on our nation’s girls, and we need it now.”

The demand for computing skills far outstrips supply, plaguing U.S. employers with a talent shortage. In 2015, there were more than 500,000 open computing jobs to be filled in the U.S. but fewer than 40,000 new computer science graduates to fill them. The untapped potential of women to fill these roles has vast implications for U.S competitiveness.

“Dramatically increasing the number of women in computing is critical to closing the computer science skills gap facing every business in today’s digital economy,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s group chief executive – North America. “Without action, we risk leaving a large portion of our country’s talent on the sidelines of the high-value computing jobs that are key to U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”

The report offered recommendations for cracking the gender code. They include sparking interest while girls are in junior high, sustaining engagement in high school and inspiring a career after college.