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Geek Out, Ladies: The Tech World Needs You

Why does the tech industry need more leading ladies, and why do so many young women shy away from pursuing potential STEM careers early on in their education?

women in STEM careers

(Photo Credit: Monica Holli/Flickr)

Women in tech are few and far between, especially when you get to top-ranking positions. Most recently, the social media giant Twitter was criticized for not having a diverse enough board before announcing its IPO last month. Was Twitter's lack of variety due to an act of blatant sexism or a matter of slim pickings in the industry?

It's no secret that women are severely underrepresented in computer-related industries, with women making up a measly 6 percent of the chief executive staff at the top 100 tech brands. The root of why many women aren't pursuing careers in the tech industry can be traced back to the following three barriers early on in a woman’s educational path:

1. Lack of quality science and math education programs in poorer school districts.

2. Persistent stereotypes that say STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) isn't for girls or minorities.

3. Financial issues related to the cost of education.

(Source: Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey, March 2010)

In PayScale's 2013 – 2014 College Salary Report, majors in STEM-related fields make up the top ten spots for "majors that pay you back," with engineering degrees being the best in terms of ROI. As for earning potential for tech careers, you won't find many that earn less than six-figures, even for mid-career salary figures.

STEM careers are not dying out anytime soon, either. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related jobs by 2020, but only 30 percent will be filled at the current rate of tech graduates. Cindy Padnos, an investor in women-owned startups and founder of Illuminate Ventures, writes in her white paper that "[w]hen you have gender diversity in an organization, you have better innovation, and I don't know where innovation is more important than in the high-tech world."

It's time to geek out, ladies, because the tech world needs you more than you need it, believe it or not.

Still not convinced? Check out this infographic from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, which is packed with data on the current state of women in tech, as well as the important role women play in STEM careers.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you one of the few women pursuing a career in tech? Share with our community on Twitter why you chose the road less traveled and are sticking with it, despite the stigma about women in tech professions.

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