The number of women in tech jobs will fall to a new low over the next ten years despite efforts to close the gender gap in the field.
“If we do nothing, girls in computer science will actually decline from today from 24% today to 22%,” according to Julie Sweet, Accenture North America CEO.
Negative implications for the US economy
This trend creates a number of challenges for the US economy, First, a major skills gap is already challenging US businesses, impacting competitiveness.
“Last year we had 40,000 computer science graduates and we had 500,000 new jobs created,” Sweet said. “You cannot fill that gap demand by focusing only on boys.”
Sweet added getting girls interested and invested in this path is key so that they can participate in the most highly paid, high valued that are only going to grow.
This will help fuel the economy, as more individuals are encouraged to this path. And, diversity will help drive idea generation and growth.
“It’s really important to continue to be an innovative country,” Sweet added.
Mind the (gender) gap
Sweet explained that currently families, schools and companies aren’t reaching out to girls in the right way to encourage them to pursue a path in tech.
“Our research shows that what drives girls to study computer science—which is critical to many of these jobs—are really different factors than boys,” Sweet said. “And we’ve not been tailoring our education or really tailoring our encouragement to girls.”
She added we could triple the number of women in computer science jobs by 2025 by taking some specific interventions.
How? By sparking interest in junior high school.
“I’m not telling parents that they should stop limiting screen time, but they should feel good that the screen time their girls have can really help them spark their interest in computer science,” Sweet said. “Girls who are exposed to computer games at that age are four times more likely to go into computer science.”
That interest then needs to be fostered in high school In high school and further inspired in college to lead girls to jobs in this field, she explained.
It doesn’t end there, though. Sweet also emphasized the need for companies to help train and recruit women and that interest in computer science can come after college.
Please also see: