It's no secret that the tech sector is a "boy's club" in more ways than one. But career paths for tech-savvy women aren't limited to Silicon Valley giants, or even to companies that specialize in technology.
These days, all businesses need tech talent to support and expand their IT strategy -- and plenty are pursuing initiatives to recruit female employees and move them up the corporate ladder.
There's certainly a long way yet to go. Let's look at the facts, compiled from a variety of sources by industry organization Women Who Tech: Women hold less than 30% of proprietary software jobs and just one-quarter of IT jobs overall. Of all tech startup owners, a mere 5% are female.
Yet, women make up the majority of the U.S. workforce and are most actively using modern technologies such as social media. Over half (56%) of professionals in this country are female. The same could be said for active members of Twitter (55%) and Facebook (55%), and social gamers on Zynga (60%).
The tech sector appears to be especially tough (or just unappealing) for female engineers and tech professionals. Not only do women account for 25% of employees in the tech workforce, they're leaving the industry about twice as fast as men, and many cite inhospitable work environments as their reason for leaving.
Technology aside, executive circles continue to be male-dominated, even as the number of female professionals grows across industries. Of all the executives at Fortune 500 companies, 11% are women. Less than 5% of the 1,000 largest companies in the U.S. had female CEOs in 2014, a number that barely increased from a year prior.
[ Are you unconsciously reinforcing gender stereotypes? Read: Google Image Search Results Amplify Sexism, Study Finds ]
Lest we leave things sounding too grim, it's worth noting that in the past few years we've seen companies make efforts to actively promote female leaders and provide benefits that help women achieve that oft-desired work/life balance. The length of time offered for paid and unpaid maternity leave has increased for many women, while some companies are offering telecommuting and job-sharing options. Last year, Apple and Facebook began to offer financial assistance to women receiving cryo-vitrification.
The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) builds an annual list of the top 50 companies for executive women. The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) takes a more narrow focus on businesses for women who work in tech.
In order to highlight the many opportunities available to women in IT, we're featuring some of the most trailblazing companies spotlighted by NAFE and ABI. On the following pages, we'll take you beyond the tech sector, presenting companies across all industries that provide strong, supportive, and flexible work environments for female employees. These businesses stand out in how they promote female employees and offer above-average benefits for childcare, maternity leave, and flexible work hours.
After you've reviewed these examples, let us know how your workplace stacks up. Or, if you're lucky enough to already work for one of these firms, tell us what it's like -- and where to send our resumes -- in the comments section below.Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio