It's no secret that women are underrepresented in tech. According to statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up half of the overall workforce, and yet hold just 28 percent of STEM-related jobs in the U.S. And according to Code.org, only roughly 18 percent of computer science degrees go to women.
The road to gender parity is a slow-moving and bumpy one, especially in tech — but one such barrier to entry is the idea that you have to have majored in a STEM field to go on to work in the industry, which is becoming more and more untrue. According to a new study conducted by Handshake, a career-finding platform for college students in the U.S., 35 percent of 100,000 women who applied to software engineering and developer roles did not major in STEM-related subjects.
"More and more college students are discovering that the true value of their education is not defined by their major," says Christine Cruzvergara, VP, Higher Education & Student Success at Handshake. "College students without STEM degrees aspiring to work in the technology field should embrace and lean in to the skills and assets, including the ability to synthesize information, think critically, and communicate well, that they bring to the table. The unique perspective that these students bring to problem solving and finding creative solutions is just as valuable to employers as theoretical domain expertise, and deserves to be highlighted and emphasized through the recruitment and hiring process."
Ahead, we talked to eight women in tech — from a senior policy director at Spotify to a marine turned waitress turned software engineer at Adobe about how they broke into the industry and what advice they would give to their younger selves.