Off The Grid: The Uncounted Women in Computing

December 8, 2015

Yesterday, we reported that the computer workforce is actually much larger than we thought. Today, we're releasing a stunning new finding about those previously uncounted computer workers: they're much more likely to be women than anyone realized. This fact has profound implications for the future of women in computer science.

When we looked beyond mere job titles to examine the work Americans actually do on the job, we found some 1.5 million previously overlooked women who perform complex computer tasks such as coding or maintaining computer networks. These women have gone unnoticed, because they do not have job titles like computer programmer or network administrator--or anything else in the STEM fields, for that matter.

In fact, we found more female computer workers in these so-called non-STEM occupations (1.5 million) than in jobs typically classified as STEM occupations (900,000). In the traditional STEM occupations, the gender imbalance for computer workers is shocking: roughly 20 percent are female. In non-STEM occupations, by contrast, women who do complex computer work are at least approaching parity: roughly 40 percent are female.

So what does this mean? First and foremost, it's good news. Advanced computer work may be more appealing to women more than computer jobs are. Even if the prospect of being a software engineer does not entice a young woman, for example, she might still like to code. Tech employers who are working hard to attract more women to computing jobs can draw on a deeper reservoir of female interest and talent than many realized. K-12 educators should take heart as well: The future for girls in technology could be brighter than they knew. 

Off the Grid Infographic

Tags: computer science, women & girls, jobs & workforce