It’s A Woman’s World, Too: The Best Countries to be A Woman in Tech
“Who is the first person that comes into your mind when you hear the words ‘tech industry’?”
Ask anyone that question, and you’ll probably hear the repetitive answers: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and, never forget, Mark Zuckerberg. Nowadays, most of the world relates the tech industry with male domination, thanks to the media’s focus on “male tech genius” tropes with those three men first on the list and with stories of their lives on screens and on the headlines.
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- With the media’s focus on the “male tech genius”, we’re used to relating the tech industry to male figures such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. However, women used to be a major part of the tech industry during World War II, when men were busy serving in the military.
- Nowadays, only a small fraction of women take up computer science and tech courses or work in the tech industry.
- In a study conducted in 2016, it was discovered that 54% of women working in the tech industry experienced gender inequality in their workplace, especially among women of color.
- But if you’re a woman in tech, you might be wondering where the best place to work is, based on the country’s workforce, gender equality, and high wages.
- According to a study conducted in 2018, Europe, Australia, and the United States have a lot of women in the tech industry. On the other hand, Scandinavian countries like the Netherlands have higher wages for women in tech.
- Overall, the study ranked one country as being the best place to be a woman in tech – Portugal. This is thanks to their small gender pay gap and strong support for small businesses and start-ups.
Little did we know, women used to make up such a large part of the workforce in computers and programming in the early days. Back in World War II, while men were out serving in the military, women were hired to fill various tech positions: from initially being the literal “computers” in computing the ballistic trajectories by hand, to operating the bulky room-sized computers, which were later be known as ENIAC, one of the first electrical computers. Because of this, work that had to do with computers or software programming was even referred to as a “woman’s job”.
Unfortunately, as of 2014, women only comprised 17% of the college population who obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer and information sciences, and in 2017, less than 25% of computer science jobs were held by women. While this was a minor increase from the 2000’s, it’s actually less than half of the number of women who finished their bachelor’s degree in computer or information science in 1985, which was around 35% (Varley, 2018).
One of the reasons we could think of as to why there are fewer women in the tech industry is the environment itself, as women in the tech industry are found to experience gender inequality issues more than other industries. In a study conducted by Ashcraft, McLain, and Eger (2016), it was found that 54% of women in the tech industry reported experiencing gender inequality in the workplace compared to the average 45%. It was also found that 56% of technical women leave their jobs mid-career compared to the average job due to issues such as bad workplace experiences, lack of access to core creative and technical roles in the workplace, and general dissatisfaction with career prospects, especially among women of color. Lastly, the top tech careers for men and women have been shown to have significant difference, with “software engineer” as the top occupation for men and “project manager” as the top occupation for women, showing a significant difference in the types of jobs typically given to women in the tech industry as compared to men.
With that, we started to wonder what the best place could be for a woman in tech, based on wage, gender equality, and the female workforce. In a study conducted by the Women in Tech Index in 2018, data on each country’s workforce, tech industry, and gender inequality were compiled and studied, creating a ranked list of some of the best countries to live as a woman in tech.
If you’re looking for countries that have the most women in the tech industry, you might consider heading towards Europe, Australia, or the United States. According to the study, Bulgaria’s tech workforce is about 30% female, the biggest percentage from the forty-one countries studied. This percentage was quickly followed by Australia, where 28% of the tech workplace comprises women. Other countries that have been shown to have a high percentage of women in the tech industry include Romania, Latvia, and the United States, all of which have about 24% of the tech industry comprising women.
In terms of countries offering the highest pay to women in the field of tech, you might consider taking a plane over to the United States where women in tech are shown to be paid the most, with their average wage for women in the tech industry reaching to about $85,000. You could also fly over to the Scandinavian countries, where the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland have been shown to pay their women in tech with significantly higher salaries, with the average wage for these working women reaching up to $50,000.
However, the study ranked one as being the best country to be a woman in tech – Portugal. It was observed that Portugal had the smallest gender pay gap between the overall economy and tech industry across 41 different countries studied. The index also ranked Portugal as the fifth out of the forty-one countries for the smallest gender pay gap. Additionally, Portugal’s support for small businesses and start-ups leading to their consistently improving economy is part of the reason why it is considered one of the best countries to be a woman in tech.
While we still need to improve as a community in addressing gender inequality, our path towards creating a future where the gender pay gap no longer exists starts with these few steps of bringing more women into fields that so greatly lack yet need them. After all, it’s about time the world sees the concept of a “female tech genius” – a title that many smart and talented women out there deserve.
Ashcraft, C., McLain, B., & Eger, E. (2016). Women in tech: the facts. Retrieved from https://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/ncwit_women-in-it_2016-full-report_final-web06012016.pdf
Honeypot.(2018). 2018 Women in tech index. Honeypot. Retrieved from https://www.honeypot.io/women-in-tech-2018/
Huang, G. (2020). Women in tech: how their experiences differ from other women in the workplace. Fairygodboss. Retrieved from https://fairygodboss.com/Articles/women-in-tech-how-their-experiences-differ-from-other-women-in-the-workforce
National Center for Women and Information Technology (2019). By the Numbers. Retrieved from https://www.ncwit.org/resources/numbers
Pirner, K. (2019). Portugal ranked a top country for women in tech. South EU Summit. Retrieved from https://www.southeusummit.com/europe/portugal/portugal-ranked-top-country-women-tech/
Varley, G. (2018). Women in tech by country. Women In Technology. Retrieved from https://www.women-in-technology.com/wintec-blog/women-in-tech-by-country