The number of women in tech is declining, with the proportion of women making it to the top tier of companies shrinking by 25% in the past five years, according to new research from Catalyst, a women-focused nonprofit group that advocates for women in technology.
“We think the decline is largely driven by the fact that women are leaving the workforce, because it is not getting any easier,” said Elizabeth Wiles, a Catalyst vice president.
Wiles, who has been researching tech for 20 years, said that as a result of the lack of women entering the workforce for a variety of reasons, there is an increased risk of being fired.
She pointed to the lack a single female engineer at Google, and the lack or inability of women to lead large tech companies, as evidence of this.
The report from Catalyst also found that a significant number of companies have not had female directors, and that more women in leadership roles is needed.
Women are making up only 13% of the workforce in tech, but they make up 50% of all employees, according the study.
Women comprise about a third of the tech workforce, but only around 13% are in the leadership roles.
This has led to an increasing number of young women leaving the tech world.
According to Wiles’ research, only 4% of female engineers who graduated in 2014 graduated with degrees in computer science and software engineering.
By 2020, only 5% of women graduates with degrees would go on to lead tech companies.
“The gender gap is going to continue to widen, which is why we need to invest in the young women in Silicon Valley and the rest of the technology industry,” Wiles said.
Walls said that it was also important for young women to learn about technology and start working on projects.
“I think young women are looking for ways to build careers and get their education,” she said.
“It is really important for us to encourage them to do that and encourage them not to quit, to stay and learn, and if they can do that, they should be encouraged to leave and go to a company where they have the opportunity to build a career and build a life.”
Wiles said that the tech sector needed to focus on hiring more women to fill its roles.
She said that there were still more women than men in the industry, and said it was time to invest more in diversity.
“For all of us in the world, if we can’t be open to all kinds of diversity, we don’t have the chance to really take advantage of the talent that we have,” she added.
Al Jazeera’s Rachel Gogarten contributed to this report