Pictured is Monique, an alum of Merit America’s IT Support program.

As Women’s History Month continues, here’s a snapshot of how their representation in the American tech industry has grown in the age of information. And we’ll take a look at how many of them are building the future of technology, charting their courses with determination and grit.

In the beginning

The Information Age began in the late 1940s. The first computer, ENIAC filled an entire laboratory, had banks of glass vacuum tubes, and needed a special ventilation system to keep it from frying itself! (It only had 80 bytes of memory.) A handful of women who were talented in math, did coding by hand on paper punch cards.

In the 1950s, their numbers began to grow – but only 5% of PhDs in math were earned by women. When the first silicon chip was invented in 1959, computers began to get smaller and faster, playing a bigger part in our lives. Women got their foot in the door – and the first to earn a doctorate in computer science was Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, in 1965.

In the 1970s and 1980s technology took off like a NASA rocket, and women were storming the gates of all the STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and math). Though they faced many obstacles, from gender and racial discrimination to unequal pay, they persisted and achieved great things. One standout among many: In 1984, Susan Kare created the icons and many of the interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh!

Fast Forward

From 2000 on, both technology and the women working in all facets of IT steadily climbed, and though women ran into cultural biases at work, many of them stuck with it. By 2010, women held 10% of software developer jobs, and 15% of data analytics jobs.

Today, information technology is a permanent part of life. It streamlines our tasks secures our banking, controls our infrastructure, drives almost all of our communications, and even locks the doors for us at night. It was scientists working with supercomputers that found a COVID vaccine that worked in record time, saving millions of lives.

Companies began to invest in DEIB after public pressure, studies and the data pounded it home that diversity improves the bottom line and makes innovation happen. HR departments began examining hiring biases and correcting them. More effort was put into recruiting, hiring and retaining women across the board.

Then in 2020, the pandemic put those gains in reverse. Women in every field were laid off more frequently than men. In almost every profession, they left the workforce in droves to be caregivers for loved ones at home and keep their kids’ educations on track during the lockdowns. But after a tough two years, women are springing back!

A Look at the Numbers

Demand for IT workers is high, supercharged by innovations in AI among other factors. As of 2023, women accounted for:

  • 14% of the global cloud computing workforce
  • 20% of U.S. engineers
  • 32% of AI and data analytics jobs
  • 33% of virtual reality software developers
  • 24% of the cybersecurity workforce

Those percentages need to climb, especially for women of color. Merit America has its eyes on the future of women in tech, and 49% percent of learners who complete our programs identify as women. Our women learners are primed to change the industry with their ideas, innovations and hard work.

We can’t wait to see what they do next!

Are you looking to transition to a career in tech? Take the first step by checking out Merit America’s programs! You’ll benefit from peer support and best-in-class coaching while earning industry-recognized credentials. Learn more about Merit America HERE.