Women in GIS and Technology Industries
The development and support of software programs, like those Blue Marble produces, are inherently linked to technology and computer science. As we begin the month of March and recognize International Women’s Day on the 8th, it is important to note the contributions women make to GIS and technology industries, as well as their underrepresentation in these industries.
The term STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has appropriately been a category of interest when discussing education, workplace, and role model inequality for women. GIS, being a cross-disciplinary field, touches nearly all aspects of STEM. From software development to surveying and advanced geodesy calculations, workflow building, and spatial data analysis, most GIS work heavily incorporates the use of technology. Falling within the tech sector, it is no surprise that the GIS industry is overwhelmingly male-dominated.
Overall, women make up only about 28.8% of technologists, with that number rising slightly in smaller companies and sitting at about 33% for GIS positions. When considering jobs within the GIS industry specifically, a greater divide is seen between development and GIS management roles, and GIS specialists and technicians. With the least representation, women make up about 13% of GIS executives, followed closely by developers at 14%. With higher representation analyst, technician, and specialist positions fall between 33-35% female. A trend is clearly seen here that women are underrepresented in technology industries, and this is exacerbated in more technical positions and higher levels of management.
Blue Marble aims to keep equal representation and opportunity in mind throughout the company. Currently, sixteen out of forty-five employees are women (35.5%). Like with the industry-wide statistics, greater inequality in representation is seen in the development, testing, and technical support departments, with only eight women out of thirty-two employees (25%). However, with women leading the Human Resources and Marketing Departments, Blue Marble is proud to note that women make up 33% of the management team.
While these numbers are not where we would like to see them, Blue Marble is working to improve by offering employee benefits that include a flexible hybrid work-from-home/in-office schedule and professional development opportunities, along with a company culture promoting open communication and meaningful upward mobility opportunities. Explore our open positions in sales, technical support, quality assurance, and development, Blue Marble is looking to grow and expand this year.
In addition to hiring and growing the percentage of women working in technical positions, Blue Marble is helping to take a very important step to correct the underrepresentation of women in the broader GIS industry by providing educational support in geographic sciences. Considering the statistics for GIS, the number of women graduating with this major has grown 342% between the 2012-13 and 2018-19 academic years, although the overall percentage of women within a GIS major is still low, at only 27% (2018-19). Blue Marble’s academic programs work to make hands-on GIS learning exercises accessible to students across all disciplines in the hope to grow the field of study. With rates of women pursuing higher education rising, making software and science disciplines accessible in universities will hopefully promote a more equal balance in gender representation in these education disciplines and the workforce.
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“Digest of Education Statistics, 2020.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education, 2020, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d20/tables/dt20_318.30.asp.
“Digest of Education Statistics, 2014.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education, 2014, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_318.30.asp.
“Top Companies for Women Technologists.” AnitaB.org, AnitaB.org, 2020, https://4b7xbg26zfmr1aupi724hrym-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-TopCompanies-InsightReport-rFINAL.pdf.