We have a few shocking statistics for you: only 28% of the international tech workforce is made up of women and engineering is the field that has the largest gap, with only 15% of jobs held by women. And the reasons for this gap are systemic and widespread; 31% of surveyed middle school girls in the US believe that coding and programming aren’t for them, 40% agree in high school, and 58% in college.
But even for women already in tech, the outlook isn’t always positive. 39% of women cite gender bias as an obstacle to receiving a promotion. Only 40% and 25% of women hold physical science and computer science jobs, respectively. UX/UI design itself is one of the most balanced fields in STEM, with around 40% women. However, there’s still a long way to go.
Women in Tech
Looking at current numbers of women currently in the tech industry, it can be hard to believe that there’s a future where parity can be reached. However, there is, and it’s on us to encourage young girls to see tech as a reality and support those already in the field. It’s proven that women in tech are quite beneficial and here’s why:
Different voices: a huge part of tech roles are anticipating and solving problems that people have and women can provide unique experiences that can help make tech solutions more accessible and effective for everyone.
Mentors: a huge barrier to women entering the tech industry is that they don’t see women in leadership roles and don’t have too many female mentors available to them. It is difficult to implement, but more female tech leaders would encourage younger women to also join the industry.
Workplace culture: studies show that workplaces with equitable gender distribution have safe environments, boast better workplace satisfaction, and increase safety.
Better products: it’s natural that we use our personal experiences when we’re creating something and a product designed by men will center male experiences. When women are involved in the design process, it can incorporate different and women-specific experiences.
The proof is in the pudding and it’s time to focus our efforts on making the tech sector a more inclusive and inviting place for women and girls alike.
Women in UX/UI Design
Although the numbers of female UX/UI professionals are higher than in other STEM fields, there’s still work to be done. UX/UI is a great choice for women and here’s why:
It boasts flexibility: more often than not, women are tasked with childcare or unpaid domestic responsibilities and this can seriously impact their ability to work or grow professionally. One of UX/UI design’s most attractive features is the ease of work; designers really only need a computer and good internet access and many employers are becoming increasingly flexible with both remote work and set schedules.
There is a higher percentage of female designers: although there’s a lot of work to be done within tech to make it more inclusive, 61% of designers in the tech field as a whole are women - that’s a majority! For women nervous about being the only woman or just one of a few on a team, UX/UI design does boast more equality than other fields.
There’s a wide range of roles: every company needs UX and UI designers to help improve their website and app design, understand their user experience, and keep up with the competition. This means that you can work in practically any sector or even move around, trying out new roles, like UX/UI designer, researcher, analyst, or more.
It’s the perfect combination of logic and creativity: are you nervous about sitting in front of a computer screen all day, just looking at numbers? In UX/UI design, that isn’t an option; professionals are tasked with looking at data to understand what both the client and company want, but also using their creativity to make aesthetically pleasing designs.
These seem like good reasons, right? So why aren’t more women joining the field? Well, there are quite a few systemic issues within the sector that influence the decision-making of women and girls. Let’s explore what we can do to change this:
Increased representation: more and more women will join the sector if they see not only women in the field, but also in leadership roles. This will require a conscientious effort from both company leadership and current employees to lift women and their ideas up.
Equal responsibility: you may have heard that more women role models are needed and that is true, but within reason. Women can’t take on the responsibility of being the only role models in the company, especially for younger women, and it’s on men to also serve as role models for incoming professionals.
Salary transparency: the gender pay gap is even more evident in the tech sector and it’s well-known; companies must be incredibly transparent about salaries, promotions, and more, using performance-based metrics to make decisions.
Female leaders in UX/UI design
Don’t let the aforementioned facts and figures scare you away: UX/UI design already boasts some pretty incredible women. Let’s take a look:
Since the 1990s, Cathy has been dominating as an interface expert designer, educating many on voice design and artificial intelligence. She is currently the Design Manager for Google Assistant at Google and uses her 20 years of experience to help others make the most of their designs.
After graduating with a degree in graphic design and working her way up that track, Debby decided to expand her skill set and learn about UX design. All these years later, Debby is into her 60s and is still blowing the field away with her tons of experience and knowledge.
Similarly to Debby, Maney arrived at UX design through her previous career and studies in graphic design and loved how UX design has a strong impact on people’s everyday interactions with tech and how it combines both technology and creativity.
Laura is a Senior User Interface Developer who began as a marketing consultant/designer in a marketing agency and worked her way over to UI design through discovering the combination of creativity and technology. She loves working with the product itself and working with the entire company, not just the development team.
Are you convinced that UX/UI design is the career path for you? We’re not surprised! At Ironhack, we are diligently working to close the gender gap in tech in all areas and our bootcamps provide the perfect opportunity for women to make a career change and get into tech. Apply today to get started on your UX/UI design journey - we can’t wait to meet you!