Minding the Tech Gap for Women

Share this post:

We live in an age when technology is transforming every facet of our society. In addition to innovations and inventions that are fundamentally changing lives and spawning new business, tech is also creating entirely new careers in areas such as security, blockchain, AI and health care.

But while tech opportunities abound in our global economy, women’s participation in the field of technology is on the decline.

In the U.S. alone, only 18 percent of computer science graduates today are women, compared to 37 percent in the 1980s. And by 2020, women will likely only fill 3 percent of an estimated 1.4 million computing-related jobs[1].

At IBM, diversity and inclusion are woven into our DNA. Our long-standing commitment to supporting women in the workplace began more than a century ago and women continue to lead in shaping a culture of innovation around the world.

The industry is taking notice. Today, at the Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Fla., AnitaB.org awarded IBM the 2017 Momentum Award for making the greatest improvement in representation of women at the senior and executive levels.

Creating a supportive culture

Companies that foster an open, flexible workplace can engage employees – the first step in igniting innovation. Our company has long-standing programs to create a flexible, family-friendly environment going back to our introducing a paid family leave in the 1950s.

And we continue to listen to feedback and co-create innovative programs – whether it’s expanding parental leave, introducing health, finance, fitness and wellness coaching or providing working mothers a concierge-like service to ship their breast milk home during business travel.

Our company continues to support flexible work-life practices that allow parents to meet personal and family commitments while balancing business needs. Just last week, Working Mother named IBM among the top 10 2017 Working Mother’s Best Companies for the 32nd consecutive year – one of only two companies to be on the list every year since its inception.

Investing in skills and leadership programs

It has been personally inspiring to watch my female colleagues balance their family priorities with their career and skills growth. But they cannot do this alone. Companies can provide the right opportunities and resources to help women progress while building a leadership pipeline.

IBM invests half a billion dollars globally every year on professional development for employees. Our female professionals have taken advantage of these resources, logging more than five million hours of development annually. For example, to cultivate high potential leaders, IBM created Transformational Leadership bootcamps. Our women leaders represented half of this year’s participants.

In addition, we’ve partnered with organizations like Working Mother, Anita Borg Institute, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Girls Who Code to evolve the conversation and opportunities.

The gender gap won’t close on its own. Attracting and advancing women in the workplace are essential for a company’s culture to thrive and its business to succeed. And, as members of the tech industry, we have a vital responsibility to lead. It’s why, for example, we’re helping women who have been out of the workforce for several years rejoin the tech industry.

We will continue to push for policies and progress, but our work is hardly done. As men and women in tech, we must come together to create a culture and mindset where women in technology can grow and thrive – and encourage others to join us on this journey.


[1] Girls Who Code 


Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, IBM

Adreanne Liggins

I was a female leader at IBM and it was an HONOR to work among the greatest!! Congratulations on breaking barriers and continuing to defy leadership myths!

I NOW own my own company!

Michelle Wycoff

Wow – great opportunity for IBM and also a little bittersweet for many of the IBM’er women that counted on a flexible workforce model and location to balance career and parenthood. As a working mother, I keep asking, “Are we really there yet?”

Hadrien Arden Enlart

“In the U.S. alone, only 18 percent of computer science graduates today are women, compared to 37 percent in the 1980s. And by 2020, women will likely only fill 3 percent of an estimated 1.4 million computing-related jobs”

Is it possible that there is also other opportunities that didn’t exist in the 1980s that are driving more women than computer science?
For example design jobs (UX, UI, CX, VD, …) have seen the number of women in schools or positions skyrocketed!

“A 2013 Guardian survey reports that of the 12,930 students at the University of the Arts London, of which CSM is part, 9,370 are female – a pretty weighty 72.5%”
Rebecca Wright

Some people tend to disagree and say that after this then number of women in agencies is less than 70%.
I think it is more complicated than just comparing numbers and genders.
But I invite you to read the comment section in here (https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/rebecca-wright)

I invite you to also take a look at this other angle, that could bring fruitful discussion on the table, don’t you think?

Adriana Penteado

Congrats for Momentum Award by by AnitaB.org! So proud our our IBM’s inclusive environment!

Sanjiv Jain

Hi Lindsay, Thanks for sharing fantastic news of IBM getting Momentum Award. Heartening to see IBM continues to lead on diversity.

Harry menon

Congrats Lindsay for this fantastic achievement. Having joined IBM not so long ago after a career with the Indian defence forces which is a male dominated bastion,I must say that there is a visible approach at IBM to encourage and support women who are doing extremely well in all leadership roles the best examples being our global CEO Ginni and the Indian CEO Vanitha who have shown that through grit determination and hard work one can rise to the very top of this prestigious organization. Wishing you and your team all the very Best !!!!!!

Bea Elbert

Happy to see we won the Momentum Award. I was one of those 37% in the ’80s. We need to continue to encourage women to not only enter technical fields, but also to be leaders – glad IBM supports both!

Shane M Ryan

I encouraged my daughter to get a degree in Computer Information Systems. She is halfway through her associates degree. She was somewhat intimidated by the taking this at first, but since I am in the industry for over 20 years I told her I would mentor her and guide her and that she can do it. I was glad she took the plunge. She is doing well so far.

Sarah Siegel

Mazel tov/congratulations to IBM for its latest recognition in the diversity, inclusion and belonging space, by AnitaB.org!

Deb Bubb

Thrilled for IBM to receive this recognition and thanks for your thoughtful perspective on the ongoing need to develop and include all our diversity at IBM.

Harriet Green

Lindsay-Rae, fantastic news on the Momentum Award and thank you for sharing your insights on the importance of Women in Tech and IBM’s inclusive environment. At our Genius of Things event in Boston today, many great women tech voices on stage! Such a timely and critical topic!

Comments are closed.

More Innovation stories

How Services Integration Helps Europeans Advance in a Multivendor World

A rising trend in Europe has businesses and government agencies flocking to new ‘services’ integration solutions rather than traditional ‘systems’ integration to better manage increasingly diverse workloads and platforms. Such solutions are bringing order to the modern multivendor IT environment, helping organizations consolidate IT management more efficiently, and providing greater visibility across discrete servers, networks, […]

Continue reading

Study: Incumbent Companies to Lead New Digital Disruption

For the first time since the rise of the Internet, the epicenter of global market disruption has shifted. Up until very recently, the conventional wisdom has been that big, mature companies were on the defensive and at risk of being disrupted – and supplanted – by startups and digital challengers. Of course, there was some […]

Continue reading

How a Small Organization Teamed with IBM for Made-in-Canada Innovation

It goes without saying: starting a business is tough, but growing a business is even harder. A recent Harvard study states that 75 percent of venture-backed startups fail. Industry Canada estimates that 85 percent of Canadian businesses that enter the marketplace will reach one full year, while 70 percent will make it to two years and […]

Continue reading