Women and most racial minorities are considerably underrepresented in today’s US information technology (IT) field, according to a recent study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). The report, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Surveys, found that the percentage of women in the IT workforce dropped from 41 percent in 1996 to 32.4 percent in 2004, a decline of 18.5 percent.
Furthermore, the report found that employers in the IT workforce hired men at higher rates than women in 2003 and 2004. The report said that during these years, 34.4 percent of the unemployed skilled male IT workers were hired, while only 5.5 percent of their female counterparts were employed.
Data from the National Science Foundation also shows a decline in the percentage of women receiving bachelor’s degrees in computer science, dropping from 37 percent in 1985 to 28 percent in 2001, reported an article from CNET News.com. These bleak statistics, however, have spurred efforts to increase the number of women in the IT industry. The National Center for Women and Information Technology, a non-profit organization based at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is helping to lead these efforts. According to CNET News.com, the group received a four-year, $3.25 million grant last year from the National Science Foundation, with a goal of increasing the number of women in US computing and IT field to 50 percent over the next 20 years.