Less than 1 in 5 Fortune 500 CIOs identify as women, report finds


Dive Brief:

  • Less than one in five CIOs at Fortune 500 identify as female, according to a report from cloud talent firm Revolent. The company analyzed public data from sources such as LinkedIn profiles and company sites to produce the report.
  • The gender gap at the highest levels of tech leadership has only marginally improved over the past three years. Representation among women CIOs is up just 2.8% since 2018.
  • CIOs who identify as female also have shorter tenures than their male counterparts. On average, female CIOs hold onto their roles for three years and three months, compared to four years and nine months for male CIOs. 

Dive Insight:

The gender gap in tech is also persistent, and shows only minor improvement in senior roles despite nearly ubiquitous corporate diversity efforts. 

While women make up nearly half (47%) of the national workforce, they comprise less than one-third (28%) of tech leadership positions, according to BCG and Heidrick & Struggles. The barriers leading to the gender gap are also well documented, from sexual harassment and discrimination at industry events to lack of opportunities in professional development.

“We’re not seeing enough women at C-level,” said Nabila Salem, president of Revolent, in an email. “Not nearly enough.”

Business interest in equality and parity for women in the workplace is declining, according to Salem. This may partly be happening due to the small increases in female tech employees, but the improvement “is really only at the most senior levels, which masks the issue rather than solving it.”

There are three strategies to attracting and retaining women to tech positions, according to Salem:

  • “We need to show women that this is a career that can be for them, and that they can excel at it,” said Salem. “To do this, we should look to actively hire more women and increase the visibility of women in tech for young girls while they’re still at school.”
  • Review hiring and onboarding practices, with special attention to weeding out gendered language in job descriptions such as “ninjas” or “rockstars.”
  • Finally, companies need to champion gender diversity, committing to specific actions within their company instead of just positive sentiments regarding diversity. 

“If we want to see more women in tech tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, we have to work hard at it,” Salem said.

Increasing the number of women in tech requires improving retention, too. 

Cultural and workplace issues push women out of careers in tech, according to a joint report from Accenture and Girls Who Code. To retain more women, businesses need to address the lack of an inclusive organizational culture. 

More than one-third of women leave careers in tech because of company culture issues, while 31% cite dissatisfaction with their job role as a primary driver for their departure, according to Accenture and Girls Who Code.


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