The long and hard road of women in the field of IT

The world is experiencing an unprecedented digital revolutionbut the presence of women in this movement, despite being vital, is still not reflected as it should be in companies in the IT (information technology) sector.

According to the most recent data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), worldwide, Of people starting careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field, 56% are women, but only 14% of those who make it to the top academically (postgraduates and doctorates) corresponds to the female population, so the universe of choice for the world of work continues to be dominated by male professionals.

According to the study "Cracking the Code: Girls’ and Women’s Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)", This marked inequality is determined, among other factors, by less access to technological means, such as computers.

In this regard, Unesco reported last March that in Latin America "40% of women are not connected or cannot afford internet access"so it is a priority to make technology more accessible and teach how it can be used for social and professional progression.

The reality seen from the world of work

It is true that there may be barriers for women at educational levelsbut that should not be an impediment for them to match their participation to the male or even exceed itmaintains in an interview with EFE, Jacqueline Samira, CEO of the Howdy company (formerly Austin Software).

"The irruption of women in leadership positions within the corporate world has been increasing in recent yearsbut this trend seems to have a certain lethargy within the technological universe, specifically in engineering, development and systems programming roles"admits Samira, founder of this company specialized in recruiting Latin American IT talent for Silicon Valley firms.

"Although historically the technology sector has been characterized by a large majority of men, we see no barriers for women to have a much greater participation. It’s a matter of continuing to work hard and pave the way"Add.

A gap that can be closed

According to data from the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 of the World Economic Forumthe countries of Latin America and the Caribbean managed to close 72.6% of their gender gap last year, which places the region in third place worldwide, after North America and Europe. According to estimates made by experts, the gap could be completely closed in the next 67 years.

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"At Howdy we are proud to say that we have over 200 teammates and over 50% of our engineering managers are women", says Samira, a graduate with honors from the University of California at Irvine and a former consultant at Chatfuel, a company specializing in creating artificial intelligence chatbots.

Few Latin Americans in Silicon Valley

In a document published in February 2023, Howdy herself claimed that of 2,500 Latin American applications for companies in Silicon Valley in 2022, only 170 corresponded to women, 7%. But there is an asterisk in this item.

"We have I have done a lot of research to find out why and there are several factors that explain it. When we receive female applications for Howdy, we look at her language, technical, cultural skills and don’t see a difference from her male counterparts. We do not see any discrepancy in terms of technical or communication levels, which is surprising, but what we do see is that women are more loyal to their current companies, something that does not occur so much in men"Samira says.

So it’s not that there are few women in the IT ecosystem, but that many don’t apply, because they already have jobs. "The possibility of applying to other companies because they are not happy is very low. We do not receive applications from women who are already working. That’s the big difference compared to men" adds.

Argentina and Colombia lead the applications

According to the aforementioned surveythe countries that contribute the most women to the selection process in Silicon Valley companies are Argentina (43%), Colombia (23%), Mexico (13%), Chile (7.6%), Uruguay (7%) and Peru (6.4%).

"Why Argentina and Colombia lead the list? There are many similarities: their access to education and training about the ability to have an IT start-up industry".

"Colombia has been very strong in that sense for decades, it is not something new and they have some of the largest development poles in the world. I would say the same thing happens in Argentina, where the authorities already saw the IT potential thirty years ago. It’s not a thing of now"concludes Jacqueline Samira.

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