As members of Generation Z become the newest entrants into the workforce, women in this age group have a good chance of becoming a force majeure in IT and other STEM fields—making them more diverse. A new report on women in technology depicts positive prospects for Gen Z females, who started to write code at a younger age than females of previous generations.
Nearly one in three Gen Z women learned to code before they were 16 years old, compared to 18 percent of women from earlier generations, according to research from HackerRank, which provides a technical recruiting platform. The study attributes this to the growing number of educational opportunities that expose more women to coding at an increasingly younger age.
2019 is the first year Gen Zers, which HackerRank describes as those born after 1997, will enter the job market. Although researchers have varying views regarding the exact birth year of Gen Zers, most place it in the mid-to-late 1990s. Members of this cohort also have been referred to as post-Millennials, iGen, and Homelanders.
Sparking and continuing to hold the interest of young men and women in STEM, is a priority among tech leaders amid growing concerns about having a workforce qualified for jobs in emerging fields such as artificial intelligence (AI). At the same time, it’s no secret that diversity, including equal opportunities for male and female workers, has been a matter of concern in Silicon Valley and other tech corridors around the world. As a result, technology leaders at universities, corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies have pledged to help foster diversity and equality, and many are collaborating with K-16 educators to focus on these efforts.
“Given the rising need for software engineers, schools have begun to offer coding as part of their curricula and the number of organizations dedicated to teaching children to code after school or during the summers has grown,” according to the report.
Why are Gen Z women different? “Unlike other generations, Gen Z women are digital natives—because of this, their interests and values are different from those who came before them,” Maria Chung, vice president of people at HackerRank, wrote in an introduction to the report.
Although Pew Research finds that Gen Zers’ tastes and habits resemble those of Millennials, initial evidence suggests “post-Millennials are on track to become the most well-educated generation yet,” as well as the most diverse, according to an article published in late 2018 on Pew’s website.
Nevertheless, time will tell how the picture will develop for Gen Zers in the workforce. “As Gen Z women progress in the workforce, it will be critical to stay informed of their changing career needs and desires,” Chung wrote in an email to ECN.
Be prepared for surprises. Although terms like “Generation Z” and “Millennials” can help researchers and others understand trends and make predictions, it’s important to avoid painting an entire group with the same brush.