The tech sector needs talent, and the shortage is now global. By 2020, high-tech companies in the U.S may be short of 1.1 million employees, which is why organizations all over the world strive to close this gap with female workers. Unfortunately, while female enrollment in STEM careers is growing, the actual employment of women in the tech workforce is still low.
Technology is not the first choice for female undergraduates, but it should be. Despite challenges such as the pay gap and work-life balance, tech is a high paying industry compared to other career choices. According to Business Insider, tech is not only for techies anymore. There are a lot of roles for people without a technology background to break into the industry. So, if you’re a non-techie woman, know that you are needed and welcome to the tech industry.
Women in Tech—2019—The Challenges
While the numbers have been declining in recent years, women still only hold 25% of computing jobs. Some of the challenges women face to enter and stay in the tech industry include a low enrollment in tech careers, work-life balance, and the pay gap.
Low enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Tech has traditionally been a male career choice. However, women are increasingly interested in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers, as reported by the Girls Scouts Research Institute.
The problem is that while 81% of elementary female students show an interest in STEM, only 13% think of STEM as a career choice after age 15. There are several initiatives geared to encourage the enrollment of girls in these careers, such as Women in Engineering Proactive Network (WEPAN). WEPAN is a non-profit organization that supports female students, spread across 150 campuses in the U.S. Their goal is to create a women-friendly engineering culture.
Overcoming the pay gap
In the tech industry, the current wage gap between men and women is 3%. Until recently, the difference in wages was not the only gender-disparity issue. Companies offered women less pay for the same role as men, even at the same company, 60% of the time. However, this is changing, with many tech companies investing resources to close the gender gap. For example, Salesforce invested $3 million extra in payroll to close the gender pay gap.
The life-work balance problem hits women the hardest. Tech companies traditionally encouraged working overtime, focusing on time spent in the office. This is why 56% of women in tech leave mid-career. As a result, the percentage of women in management is very low compared with other industries. While in Silicon Valley women make 11% of the leadership, the global percentage is only 5%. According to a report by Silicon Valley Bank, half of the startups don’t count women within their leadership team.
In recent years, there has been a change in the overall tech company culture, implementing result-oriented policies. This, added to flexible work hours, is helping more women develop their careers. Technology automation has played a big role in the flexibilization of the workday. Automation makes work more efficient, enabling organizations to focus on the results and working flexible hours. This, in turn, helps more women stay in jobs in the tech industry.
New software development methodologies, such as DevOps, played a key role in the widespread integration of automation tools into work processes. Non-technical areas within the tech industry have also benefited from technology advances that automate repetitive tasks. For instance, the adoption of digital asset management systems by marketing teams streamline their workflows.
The growing number of automation solutions also makes it easier for people without a degree in IT to break into the industry. Nowadays, you don’t really need a degree in computer science to land a high-tech job. For every great piece of code, the company needs staff to patent it, market it, and sell it. There are also many analysis, marketing, and HR roles in tech you can apply to.
What Careers Are Available Without a Computer Science Degree?
Behind every software product, there is a whole network of roles that helps the product get to markets. A tech company does not differ from any other and needs basic roles to function.
Here are some non-techie positions options:
Business operations—includes leading daily operations and creating operational plans.
Human resources—hires and manages the right people for the project.
Marketing—they research the market for opportunities. Create content and campaigns to generate the demand for the company’s products.
Sales—especially B2B sales, help development companies get the product to the customers.
Finance—accounting teams keep the budget on track, helping the company manage its resources.
Customer success—once the sales team closes the deal, the customer success team steps up to ensure customer satisfaction.
Tips for Women Entering into Tech
How can you research a new non-technical tech career? Here are 5 tips that can help you:
Identify your transferable skills
You can identify and transfer skills. For instance, someone with a marketing degree can transfer those skills to get into tech marketing. Someone with a degree in economics may want to transfer the statistics skills into a career in data science. List your skills and browse jobs with these skills in the description. Figure out your niche and go for it.
Reach out for resources
There are several groups helping women to get into tech. Even if you want to land a non-technical role, learning the basics can help your placement. Groups such as Girls Who Code and She Can Code provide technical skills and career support for girls from middle school through adulthood. If you want to get into tech marketing, MarketHER is an organization that helps female tech marketers develop their careers.
Don’t be intimidated
Most women don’t go into tech because they lack coding skills. However, that should not deter you from applying to a non-techie role. If you like learning new skills, you might even discover learning opportunities that can help you make the jump from non-techie to techie. Continuous learning is one of the basic skills required for a tech employee, which is an advantage for those entering the market. Most roles require learning on-the-job, which can be useful for people retraining from other fields. Moreover, if you are applying for a non-technical role, the chances are that most of your colleagues are not coders either.
Know the sector
There are a myriad of career paths in the technology sector besides programming, cybersecurity, and data science. Getting to know the sector allows you to define which role interests you, and review the companies that could be a good fit for you.
Places such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor are great to check job descriptions with the skills you have. Reach out to a person holding that role to start networking. Junior positions give you the opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts while you gain experience. Especially if you are transferring skills. So, don’t hesitate to apply for Junior positions.
The Bottom Line
You don’t need to be a coder to enter the tech industry. Whether it is launching a product or creating marketing content, there are roles for women in tech besides engineering. The tech industry still remains the fastest growing industry. This means that there is a huge gap between the demand for new employees and the supply. This gap can be filled by women, who can take on both technical and non-technical roles.