Increasing Gender Diversity In Tech Sector Hiring Pool
The lack of gender diversity in the technical sector continues to haunt headlines and spur efforts for inclusion. In 2014 and 2015, a number of top tech companies released their diversity numbers for the first time. Across the board, less than a quarter of the technical workforce were woman internationally. http://graphics.wsj.com/diversity-in-tech-companies/ .
Representatives of tech companies commonly cite the lack of diverse candidates as a hinderance to successfully recruiting a more diverse workforce particularly in regards to gender. Since a portion of the pipeline for technical hires are new graduates of Computer Science programs, an analysis of the distribution of degrees awarded can give insights into the potential hiring pool.
The charts below shows the total number of Computer Science degrees awarded in 2015 for the United States as reported by the Department of Education. The data below was sourced from DATAUSA.IO
18% Women(4183) 82%Men (18985)
Number of Degrees Award To Men and Women Across 729 Universities
Percent of Degrees Awarded to Women per Univsersity
UNUSUAL DATA POINT:
The aggregation of degrees by gender shows a distribution that echoes the roughly 80/20 spread of technical men and women at top technology companies, yet there are programs where women out number men. An unusual spike of hope in the middle of the the chart to the upper left requires further scrutiny. This spike represents Sullivan and Cogliano Training Center which granted 152 degrees to women compared to only 13 to men in 2014. No other reporting institution produced more. But why?
Parity Comparison of Aggregate Distribution of Degrees and Distribution of Degrees at Sullivan
This Florida based training center leads the production of degrees among women in part because it offers shorter degree programs. The institution is academically accredited and provides in-person as well as online courses that can be used to earn Associates Degrees in as little as two semesters. The broad definition of a Computer Science by the US Department of Education also enables institutions to count a wide range of courses towards Computer Science credit.
At first glance, it seems that a two semester program spanning less than a year is not enough to prepare someone for an entry level job at a technology company where software engineering is a core competency. However there are a rising number of code accelerators like Hack Reactor, General Assembly, and Code Fellows that offer 12 - 16 week course that promise students lucrative entry level jobs in the technology sector with salaries of $70,000 or more.
CodeFellows today boasts of having 584 graduates since its inception in 2014. Even if only 20% of these graduates are women, it along with other tech skills accelerators has the ability to increase the pool of potential tech hires more rapidly than traditional university programs.
Overall, initiatives to support more women in non-traditional pathways into the tech sector will be needed to help diversify the hiring pool.