Men continue to dominate the tech sector. As of December 2018, women accounted for less than 20 per cent of all tech jobs in the U.S., despite comprising more than half of the country’s total workforce. If current trends continue, it could take 118 years for female computer scientists to annually publish as many research papers as men.

Now, a new poll by data insights firm Maru/Blue conducted on behalf of SAP Canada suggests nearly half of Canadian women don’t feel welcome in the tech sector.

Approximately 760 Canadian women between the ages of 17-23 participated in the survey, and nearly half (43 per cent) said they aren’t convinced tech companies want to hire women.

More than half (54 per cent) said tech companies have a “bad reputation” when it comes to gender and equality, while 48 per cent said they don’t know how to develop the skills necessary to thrive in the industry.

Barriers

There can be several barriers preventing women from entering tech and some of the women who do are not being offered the same career-building opportunities that are given to male counterparts, for a variety of reasons.

One way to continue education and network is through conferences but female attendance at tech gatherings tends to be low, both from a keynote and a participant perspective. Women have cited insufficient childcare, high ticket costs, and a lack of company support as some of the primary issues.

The importance of mentors

About 34 per cent of the poll’s participants could not identify a female role model in tech, indicating that increased female visibility could help close the gender gap.

“Young women are hesitating on even considering a career in technology because they don’t believe technology companies sincerely want to give them a chance,” Kim Gastle, Vice President of SAP, said in a statement.

“We want to shine a light on this issue and raise this concern because we recognize that a well-rounded workforce brings together stronger ideas. When we have diversity in our teams, we can reflect our customers better, come up with a greater mix of ideas and spur innovation. A career in technology can provide many opportunities and anyone should be able to benefit from this.” 

Different regions had different perceptions. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 46 per cent of respondents didn’t feel they had the skills to succeed in tech, a sentiment that was only shared by 16 per cent of Quebec participants.

The survey’s organizers say the findings show more needs to be done to encourage Canadian women to enter tech.

“If we do not take the time to thoughtfully engage and retain women in tech, we risk creating tech solutions and ecosystems that cater to a single homogenous group,” Jodi Kovitz, CEO of #movethedial said in a statement.

“It is imperative that we illustrate to young women that tech is for them, they can excel in it and that their contributions are an integral part of the industry’s continued success.”