Scarlett Howery


July 01, 2021


There’s no denying that the world has undergone major changes in the past year that have affected individuals, families, communities, the workforce and the economy as a whole. One of the most obvious changes has been to the digital economy, as people are streaming, meeting virtually and relying on devices and internet access more than ever before. But despite the growing need for more access to online services, there is still one population that’s underrepresented in the tech field: women.

According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women make up more than half of the workforce in the U.S., but only one-fourth of that population of women work in a computing role or tech field.

Why is this the case? What is holding women back from entering this field, and how can we close that gap to diversify the workforce and encourage women to explore the world of tech?

Diversify to Innovate

According to CNBC, more than 860,000 women left the workforce in 2020, citing reasons that included lack of reliable childcare and in-person education. But while the number of STEM jobs has grown and even outpaced the growth of overall employment in the country, several other powerful factors have come into play to explain women’s disproportionate representation in the tech sector.

In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center for example, many of the women holding STEM jobs in predominantly male workplaces reported experiencing discrimination at work. Yet according to recent studies, companies that have at least 30 percent women executives are more likely to outperform those who do not meet that percentage. With the rapid acceleration of the digital economy, it’s crucial that companies and organizations not only address and take steps towards eliminating workplace discrimination, but also diversify their workforce and encourage women to get involved.

How Higher Education Can Help Solve Workforce Issues

Many higher education institutions have taken a more prominent role in helping society and the economy recover from the events of the past year. Leaders at DeVry University and other higher education institutions have recognized the disparity in the digital economy and are working to create equitable pathways to the workforce for everyone - and there’s a special focus on women in tech.

Tackling the underrepresentation of women in tech isn’t an easy job, but it can be done using a three-pronged approach:

  1. Creating a curriculum that focuses on specific tech needs across industries.By partnering with corporations to understand their specific needs, universities and colleges can introduce programs that not only help inspire female students to pursue a career in tech, but also teach a curriculum that may align with the particular needs of the organization. For example, rather than simply training students in medical coding, programs can be altered to have a more narrow focus on the software and digital services used by hospitals; this approach opens even more opportunities to women and others who are interested in exploring that industry.
  2. Motivating mentors to become involved with students and alumni.Due to the evident fact that, historically, women have been underrepresented in the tech field, it is hard these days to connect with other women who have already blazed a trail. By reaching out to recent grads and encouraging women in tech to make themselves available to newcomers in the industry, higher education institutions can help women to feel more comfortable and supported in a traditionally male-dominated field.
  3. Partnering with corporations to provide insight into their specific needs.By forging relationships with corporations, educational institutions can gain the insight to build programs that prepare learners for the real world, using tangible examples from companies that are looking to diversify their workplace and innovate even further.

Women + Tech

At DeVry, our mission is to close society’s opportunity gap by preparing learners to thrive in careers shaped by continuous technological change. We strive to increase the availability and quality of talent in the marketplace through innovative programs, relevant partnerships, and exceptional care.

We see the urgent need to ease women into careers in which they were already underrepresented, and the need to do it quickly; this has led to the creation of an innovative program to encourage women to pursue a career in tech through the Women + Tech Scholars Program. The goal is to empower our female students to meaningfully improve their lives, communities and workplaces by pursuing a career in technology.

Explore Opportunities in Tech

Colleges, universities, corporations and organizations have a responsibility to promote gender equality in the workplace, and the tech sector is no exception. By shining a light on disparities, encouraging girls and women to explore a career path in tech, and focusing on hiring and promoting women at the entry and managerial levels, women will find a prominent place in the digital economy.

Are you thinking of joining the digital industry? Pursue your interests by speaking to someone in the field, reviewing your goals and connecting with an advisor. Learn more about DeVry’s Women + Tech Scholars Program and prepare to launch your digital career today.

About the authors

Scarlett Howery