Content, Channel markets, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

Diversity in the High-Tech Industry: CompTIA Research Results

Carolyn April
CompTIA's Carolyn April

I've been the only female employee in an IT company, and the only woman working in an IT department. As a result, discussing diversity within the high-tech industry is something in which I'm extremely passionate.

A new report, based on research conducted by CompTIA, tackles this very issue. CompTIA’s “Diversity in the High-Tech Industry” report is based on two online surveys conducted in December 2017; one survey involved 400 U.S. IT professionals, and the other involved 200 workers outside the high-tech industry. Some of the results seem to contradict each other, while others are right on the money.

The report claims that nearly 80 percent of the high-tech industry workers surveyed by CompTIA say they are satisfied with their organization’s diversity efforts, and 87 percent say they’ve worked in a department comprised of a diverse group of employees in the last year. Obviously, my own personal experience with diversity in the workplace is vastly different from that statistic. Reports from other sources agree with me as statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Commission and other sources, have shown that the tech industry workforce employs a majority of white males, with fewer African Americans, Hispanics or women than other industry.

Why is the perception of diversity so different from the actual statistics? Carolyn April, senior director for industry analysis at CompTIA has a thought on the subject, “The human element may be at play here,” April said in a prepared statement, “People want to be aspirational; they want to believe that their company is very progressive and encouraging, offering job opportunities to any qualified candidate, regardless of demographics.”

Instead of being focused on how companies can hire a more diverse workforce, I think the industry as a whole should put some focus on why those demographics potentially seem uninterested in the industry. According to the World Economic Forum, the main reasons girls, in particular, don't attempt to pursue tech-based careers are:

  1. Aspirations that are molded by social norms and parental expectations;
  2. Information failures that affect the decision to enter and stay in a STEM field; and
  3. institutional factors that constrain women’s ability to enter a STEM job.

Turning back to the CompTIA research, I think it hits the mark on pay-equality. The report shows that two-thirds of the women surveyed said they would leave their current job if they found out there was pay inequality, this is compared to 44 percent of men who said they would do the same. I believe this shows that there is not much of a pay gap within high-tech jobs, as the women in the industry would not tolerate it. However, the report does also mention another survey done last year by salary database and jobs site Comparably. It found that in the tech-dominated metropolitan area of Seattle, men earned an average of 30% more in base salary plus bonuses than women. In Boston, the gap was 33%. In my own experience, I have not encountered a pay gap between myself and my male colleagues.

Almost everyone surveyed agreed that having diversity in an organization can better produce innovative products and services than a homogeneous group, at least in some part. I certainly agree that having multiple points of view within a department can bring thoughts and ideas together that could not be found otherwise. Creating a more diverse tech-industry is still an uphill climb, but I think the view from the top will be well worth the extra effort.