When it comes to jobs, the IT sector and technology professions are rich with career opportunities, yet there are still a myriad of challenges associated with women rising in careers related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
In a new global survey by Elance, 66% of women cited equal pay in the tech space as topping their list of wanted changes. It's only one factor, however, that's currently in play. Let's look deeper at the results of the poll, where there develops a picture of women focusing on technology jobs, a gender gap, and the influence of new online opportunities:
Online Opportunities: Female Professionals “For women in tech, online work is a level playing field where merit and results rule,” said Fabio Rosati, chief executive officer at Elance. “Online work provides an attractive avenue to reduce gender discrimination and create professional fulfillment in ways that often are not available in traditional job markets.” According to the survey, a significant majority of the 7,000 freelance professionals polled seemed to agree.
“After taking five years off to focus on my family, I knew reentering the tech workforce would be difficult because this sector moves at lightning speed,” said Heidi Vanyo, a software developer based in Blaine, Minnesota, and owner of Solutions by Heidi, LLC. “Instead of seeking a traditional full-time job, I opted for online employment . . . Within a few months, I was able to build up my web development portfolio and work with a variety of businesses around the world.”
Some 80% of the respondents said they felt optimistic about the future of high-tech professions for women and 74% said they saw online work and networking as instrumental to progress.
— 65% of women working online said they encountered a diverse spectrum of project types and a demand for richer, more varied skill sets in the digital workforce.
— 60% of the respondents said that it's easier to build a portfolio of multiple clients online than it is to pursue a similar roster of businesses through brick-and-mortar networking.
Next Steps: New Skills, New Role Models Optimism surrounding online independent work is also driving women to enhance their professional training in the technology sector. Topping the list of education goals were coding skills.
— 36% of those polled said website design skills were increasingly crucial.
— 29% indicated web programming to be among the priorities.
— 22% said they'd focus on mobile-app development.
As for next steps, 55% of the respondents said they sought to foster more inspiration for women at a young age from parents and teachers. Attached to that, dispelling notions that boys are better than girls at math and science turned out to be a focus for 49% of the women responding. And 45% said that more women as technology-related role models would be a key factor to evening the playing field.
The technology industry may be dominated by men — or at least the pay scale may be slanted in favor of the male worker — but women are working hard to close the tech gender gap. And, according to the Elance poll, online work is emerging as an instrument of that effort.