The Glass Ceiling in Tech: A Multi-dimensional Perspective

This article was originally published on DiversityJobs.

The tech industry is constantly evolving with innovation and new creative ways to solve the world’s problems– causing an increased demand for tech workers. Between 2021 and 2031, jobs for cybersecurity and software development will grow by more than 25%. Still, the glass ceiling exists for many underrepresented groups such as women, racial minorities, and LGBTQIA+ individuals in the tech industry.

Understanding the Gender Gap

Women have a long history of being underrepresented in various tech fields. Making up about 25% of the industry, women face challenges every day that limit their career growth. At the executive level, women make up only 11% of leadership positions– a crucial gap that creates an environment in which women are not able to see themselves beyond a certain level of employment.

This lack of representation directly affects how supported women feel in their career. In effort to fill the gender gap, we can showcase more successful women in the industry. Celebrating their success sends a positive message to women that the same success can be possible for them. Moreover, mentorships are an effective way to bond women together to share helpful advice and push each other toward to new opportunities.

Acknowledging Racial Disparity

Black employees account for 12% of America’s total workforce, but only eight percent of the tech industry. This undeniable lack of representation may be a direct link to the lack of STEM-focused majors studied in college.  There is a dramatic disparity in the rates of (1) Black college graduates and (2) recent grads seeking careers in tech fields. To help fill this gap, many initiatives and investments have been made in association with HBCUs around the nation.

These Historically Black Colleges and Universities are now receiving notable investments that are making a real impact in the lives of Black students and recent grads. With such a challenging barrier against Black Americans, any support offered early in the college going process helps and can affect the positive change that’s needed for the tech industry.

Breaking the ‘Gay Glass Ceiling’

LGBTQIA+ members are constantly fighting against the anti-gay rhetoric that plagues many areas of their life. Within the workforce, especially tech, change has been a slow process, and there are many societal stigmas engrained into its structure. Achieving workplace authority is a main challenge for LGBT workers, as they are less likely to reach leadership positions than their straight coworkers.

Through every challenge, there is a resistance to appoint LGBT employees to upper level management positions, forcing many of these employees to conceal their sexuality to avoid discrimination of any kind. Now, gay leaders in the tech industry have come forward, shared their career stories, and offered ways to get ahead– together. LGBT employee resource groups are becoming a helpful resource for these employees to feel comfortable at work, and motivated to break the invisible glass ceiling.

Getting Ahead as a Minority in the Tech Industry

As a member of an underrepresented group, you’ll face opposition at every turn. The important thing to carry with you is that your voice, your experiences, your expertise, are all meaningful things to contribute.

The tech industry is responsible for solving many of the world’s most intricate problems. So, having different kinds of employees solving these problems only helps the industry in the long run. Gather as much support as you can through mentorships and employee resource groups and remember that you are a valuable employee with something special to offer.

By Alice Song
Alice Song Career Counselor