The Conundrum of Falling Participation of Women in Math and Computing Jobs: Observations From the USA and Denmark

The Conundrum of Falling Participation of Women in Math and Computing Jobs: Observations From the USA and Denmark

Roslyn Layton (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7068-4.ch003


The USA and Denmark are leading information communications technologies (ICT)-enabled economies and have a variety of policies to promote women in ICT occupations, but both report that just roughly 25% of math and computing jobs in their respective countries are held by women, a number that continues to decline. The trend is odd given that the ICT industry globally notes a growing shortage of workers as well as a potential for lost revenue if positions go unfilled. Given the situation and a significant evidence that women's participation in companies is associated with greater profitability, one would assume ICT companies to be profit-maximizing and thus do more to attract and retain women. The trends are also odd given that the participation of women in scientific occupations in the life, physical, and social sciences are increasing overall. This chapter briefly reviews the situation and recommendations to address it, including increasing mentorship for women and recognizing and addressing bias in the workplace.
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Comparing The Us And Denmark

Globally, the ICT industry topped $4.5 trillion in revenue in 2017 and is expected to reach $4.8 trillion in 2018 (CompTIA, 2018) The US is the single-largest ICT market in the world and accounts for 31 percent of the global ICT market (CompTIA, 2018). The US ICT economy was $1.6 trillion in 2018, 9.2 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP) (CompTIA, 2018). The numbers are even more staggering from an equities perspective; the American tech industry accounts for a quarter of the value of the US stock market, some $34 trillion (Nasdaq, n.d.). There are half a million tech companies in the US, with 34,000 new startups in 2017 alone (Cyberstates, n.d.). While women have increasing representation in a variety of roles in the ICT industry, but not in math and computing, a key policy research question would be whether the inclusion of women in said roles, would make ICT firms even more profitable and innovative.

Denmark, while a small country by population, is perhaps the world’s leading digital nation. The country is rated as one of the top digital nations by the International Telecommunication Union’s Measuring the Information Society Report, which has measured countries’ access to, use of, and skills in information communications technologies (ICT) since 2007 (International Telecommunications Union, n.d.). Denmark is also celebrated for performance of broadband networks across a range of measures including competition, availability, speed, and price (Layton & Kane, 2017).

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