For over 30 years, women have comprised less than 10% of the small business labor force, with hispanics hovering at 2% and blacks at 1%, according to a recent Harvard Business School paper. Even with increases in startup inclusion programs ranging between 25–41%, representation hasn’t improved.
This was made all too apparent at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where the keynote speaker lineup was completely devoid of women. In the past, the conference showcased industry-leading women like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. This year, however, the only women taking the stage are part of a panel.
In the midst of CES being slammed as a male-dominated event, diversity leaders have rallied to spread hope in the tech sector. Allison Jones, director of marketing and communications at Code2040, is one of these leaders. Her 30-person organization works directly with companies to reorganize their internal hiring processes. Says Jones, “It’s not enough to just connect folks to talent- you have to make sure that your company has the culture that helps them drive, succeed, and grow.”
While Code2040 is building a talent pipeline, Girls Who Code is keeping that pipeline well stocked. Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, has graduated 53,000 young women from her program. She hopes to increase this number to 100,000 by the end of 2018.
Her mission is to fight against the growing trend of women leaving the tech industry. 24% of computer scientists in 2017 were women, down from 37% in 1995. Saujani says the reason women leave the tech sector is because of a “lack of community.”
Fortunately, in Indiana, WomenIN is making huge strides to empower aspiring women entrepreneurs in technology. “Women approach entrepreneurship differently. We’ve found that women entrepreneurs crave increased amounts of validation and support — a confidence boost, if you will,” says Brittany Collins, co-director of WomenIn.
As forward-thinking, industry-leading women continue to break down the barriers that society has placed in front of aspiring women, real progress is being made. These ladies won’t stop until equality is the new norm. When that happens, it will be a great day for America.