Diversity has been a topic of discussion in many different environments, and the tech industry is not exempt. The field has a reputation for being homogenous, and although there have been some improvements over the last decade, there’s a ways to go in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the tech industry.
We’re going to take a look at the current state of diversity in the field of software engineering, its value, and methods for maintaining it.
The Breakdown: The Current Landscape of Diversity in Software Engineering
Female Software Engineers
The number of women working in the software engineering field has been increasing for a while now. However, the industry is still a long way from equal representation. According to a 2022 poll of developers around the world, men make up 91.88% of the profession. The percentage of women in software engineering globally was significantly lower, with only 5.17% of respondents identifying as female.
In the United States, a 2022 survey showed similar results with the percentage of women in software engineering totaling just 22%, whereas 78% of software engineers were men. According to the data, men dominate in the field of software engineering both globally and in the United States.
Black Software Engineers
When it comes to the landscape of diversity for Black software engineers, there seems to be an even greater difference between the numbers than with the gender disparity. According to 2022 data, the percentage of white software engineers in the United State is just over 52.3% while the percentage of Black software engineers is just under 5%.
For Black women, this figure is significantly lower. In 2022, Black women made up only 3% of the total female workforce in technology, according to the National Centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). But don’t be fooled by these numbers — there are many notable Black software engineers who have contributed greatly to the industry and continue to do so.
Hispanic/Latinx Software Engineers
The current landscape of diversity in software engineering for those who identify as Hispanic or Latinx is a topic that has received increasing attention over the last few years. Despite the attention, however, there’s still much that could be done to improve Hispanic/Latinx representation in the industry. Almost 52.3% of software engineers in the United States are white, while only 6.9% are Hispanic/Latinx, according to 2022 data.
Like Black women, Hispanic/Latinx women make up an even smaller portion of software engineers. A 2015 analysis showed that Hispanic/Latinx women accounted for only 2% of the software developer population.
Why is Diversity so Important?
While there are many reasons why it’s important to have diverse teams, it’s also good for business. DEI allows companies to have a more inclusive environment, which can then lead to better products, better services, and better internal teams. Here are a few reasons why diversity can help boost the success of a company.
Encourages Productivity at Work
DEI has a huge impact on the productivity of employees. Diverse teams tend to outperform their non-diverse counterparts because they bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table. Diversity on a team can help manage bias and encourage current skilled workers to be even more productive.
According to a 2020 McKinsey analysis, businesses with leadership from a variety of backgrounds and cultures tended to outperform those without similar representation. The same analysis claims that a company’s profit line can benefit from employing more women in top positions.
Sparks Innovation & Creativity
Teams that include people of different genders, races, sexual orientations, and cultural backgrounds help create a working environment where everyone can feel like they belong.
When individuals feel like their voices aren’t heard or their contributions don’t matter, they’re less likely to speak freely and openly about their ideas. This could lead to a stagnant environment for both the individual and the team. Having a welcoming work environment encourages employees to use their full potential.
Teams that are diverse and open-minded are better able to see opportunities and develop effective strategies to solve problems. The ability of a software development team to foster creativity and innovation is crucial to the delivery of effective products to their target market, and a diverse environment can help bolster these unique perspectives that help drive creativity.
Access to New Markets
Diverse teams with their wide breadth of perspectives and approaches go beyond internal interactions. Teams can bring this knowledge and experience to the table when working with diverse customers or clients, each of whom may come from a different background and have a unique set of needs or goals. A diverse team can help a company better understand and address the needs of a wider range of customers, opening up new markets and audiences who may be interested in their products and services.
Companies that actively seek out and hire people from underrepresented groups are 70% more likely to successfully enter new markets, according to a 2020 study. Having a more diverse team improves the likelihood of coming up with plans that are broad in scope and highly effective. Inclusive teams can help tap customer bases that have yet to be fully understood by the competition.
Building Community & Team Relationships
By bringing together people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, you can create a team that is stronger, more talented, and more sustainable. In addition, when you have a diverse team, you’ve better able to serve your customers.
A diverse team can also make it easier for your company to attract and retain top talent in the long run. In fact, 76% of respondents in a 2020 Glassdoor survey agreed that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion were important considerations when looking for a job. Talented individuals are more likely to join and stay with organizations that welcome people from different backgrounds.
How to Increase Diversity on Your Team
One of the best things you can do to help increase diversity in software engineering is to start with your own team or organization. It’s important to create an inclusive and open culture that welcomes all members’ contributions. Here are a few ways to work toward increasing diversity on your team.
1. Consider Your Talent Pipeline
Ask yourself: Are there any groups of people who are underrepresented at my company? If so, what can I do to help them get involved with company efforts?
Make an effort to build a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline if you want to expand your software engineering team. It’s important to hire for skills, but you may find that you’re missing out on candidates from certain backgrounds because they don’t know if they would be welcome at your company, or they don’t feel comfortable enough to apply.
Consider reading out to candidates who might be interested in working with you and let them know about open positions. This helps communicate to them that they’re welcome to apply, and it helps you build a diverse pool of applicants. It can also be beneficial to emphasize your focus on a diverse talent pipeline in your job postings.
2. Pay Close Attention to Your Job Postings
Ask yourself: Is there anything that might be discouraging certain groups from applying? Is there something I can do better to make my postings more inclusive?
Your job descriptions should make it clear that everyone will be treated fairly and equally, no matter their background. The wording you use in your job postings may encourage or discourage certain groups from applying. For instance, certain words or phrases may carry more masculine overtones, implying to women that the hiring manager is only interested in male applicants. It’s crucial to be mindful of the impact of your word choices.
It’s also a good idea to try to avoid very specific qualifications or requirements. Requirements may seem like a common sense item to include, but they can sometimes exclude people — who would excel at the job — from applying in the first place. For example, if you advertise that anyone who meets the minimum academic requirements can apply, you’re inviting people from all walks of life to submit an application.
This has direct implications for the field of software engineering. Many who work in the tech industry have somewhat less traditional paths of career development. Some pursued formal higher education, while others are self-taught, and still others took one-off courses to develop their skills. Many of these individuals could excel at your job, and being open to their skills — rather than their certifications — can help you create more welcoming job postings.
3. Create a Welcoming Environment
Ask yourself: Am I creating a space in which someone from a different background would be comfortable? Is there anything I can improve to make this environment more welcoming and inclusive?
Retaining a diverse workforce means creating an environment where people from all backgrounds feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions without judgment or fear of reprisal. One way to do this is by providing DEI training on how to communicate effectively with others who may have a different background or experience level. Compared to those who don’t take part in diversity training, those who do are 64% more likely to expand their understanding of a topic, according to a 2018 study.
When DEI training is executed well, most participants have a heightened consciousness of diversity and the impact of unconscious bias. Those who receive DEI training develop practical abilities and insights needed to help create a more inclusive environment.
4. Nail Onboarding
Ask yourself: Once an employee is hired, am I following through on my initiative to increase DEI in the workplace? Can I make an employee feel more supported during onboarding?
Onboarding is your first opportunity to demonstrate that you have a firm grasp of business operations, so it’s important that your new employees feel welcome and supported immediately. When you achieve this, it shows that you’re committed to ensuring all of your new hires have a fair shot at success. This is especially important for women and people from underrepresented groups, and it will help them become more engaged and invested in their work.
At App Academy, Diversity is Important to Us
There’s more awareness than ever regarding diversity in software engineering, but there’s still work to be done. We want to push forward and ensure everyone has an equal chance to succeed in this industry. We’re proud to offer scholarships and be part of the movement toward a more diverse workforce in software engineering.
To learn more about our programs, explore our curriculum or get in touch with an Admissions Specialist. To learn more about our diversity initiatives, visit our Diversity & Inclusion page.