Traditionally, the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field has been, and still is to a certain extent, male dominated. According to the U.S. Census, in 2019 men comprised 52% of all workers, but 73% of all STEM employees. The Census Bureau also reported that out of 70 STEM occupations, only one – computer network architects – paid women more than men. But the female representation in that career lagged at only 8%.
One woman who might be included in those statistics is Monique Morrow, a City University of Seattle alumna and senior distinguished architect, emerging technologies at Syniverse, a company that builds and services the technologies that support human connections.
In a webinar titled “Cybersecurity Eco-System,” Morrow says women in the technology field are not treated equitably when it comes to advancement.
Men are four times more likely to hold executive roles than females, and nine times more likely to have managerial roles, notes SDX Central, a business-to-business media company.
Why is there a gender gap when it comes to technology careers?
“There’s currently a cultural bias that women can’t perform in the male-dominated technology careers,” says Kathy Cox, associate vice president, strategic partnerships at City University of Seattle. “More education is needed to show that women can succeed.”
Tech, in the past, and with some remnants still remaining in today’s world, often emphasized competitiveness rather than collaboration, says Morgan Zantua, program director at CityU.
According to Zantua, this is changing in the workplace and now more value is placed on teamwork, communication and multiple intelligences. Girls and women have an advantage in those areas, she says.
The time is right now if you want to pursue a technology career and you’re female.
How to get involved?
Winter Wells didn’t take technology classes in high school, nor in college. In fact, she majored in Asian Studies when she got her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Washington. Yet she’s done extremely well as a student at CityU while working on her Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity, Information Security.
“My grades are good and I worked hard to fill in my knowledge gap,” says Wells.
The volunteer work Wells did while raising her children also afforded her with competencies that will help in her chosen fields of cybersecurity and information security.
When you’re transitioning to tech, you also bring a host of additional skill sets you’ve gained from previous work and other roles you’ve held, says Zantua. And as an adult learner, you absorb quickly.
To begin your journey into tech employment, Zantua suggests you first identify what specific role interests you in the technology field, keeping in mind your transferrable skills and how well your work style meshes with the job responsibilities of that role.
Never-ending career choices
Technology moves at an ever-accelerating pace. As far as what jobs have become available, there’s no end to what you can do.
“Data science and cybersecurity positions are still in great demand, but artificial intelligence is upcoming,” Cox says. (Watch for an AI program at CityU in the spring of 2022.)
It’s also important to match your personality to the type of work you’re pursuing.
“If you’re an extrovert, chances are working on a help desk, making presentations to a group as a data scientist or working closely with customers to design data sets, would energize you,” says Zantua. “If you’re an introvert and more data driven than people driven, programming might be more appealing.”
Although Wells hasn’t nailed down her next role in tech yet, she’s currently gaining experience by working on a grant project for CityU. The goal of that project is to recruit teachers to teach cybersecurity in high school.
“High school tech will be critical,” Wells says. “We need to reach girls early and negate their preconceptions.”
When you start classes, suggests Wells, move beyond the boundaries of what’s required and what you’re comfortable with. For example, find a mentor, connect with others in the industry, join clubs and do tabletop exercises.
There is no lack of problems to be solved when it involves technology, says Morrow, and that’s not going to get better any time soon. It is never too late to enter this career path and get that satisfied feeling when you solve problems.
City University of Seattle is a private nonprofit university accredited through the doctoral level. It has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the Top 50 in the country for its online bachelor’s degree programs for eight consecutive years.