Tech internships
What's your experience with applications for tech internships? Source: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

When the word ‘toxicity’ and the phrase ‘tech internships’ find themselves in the same sentence, you know there’s something wrong.

Trying to glue the tech gender gap together, Girls Who Code (GWC) recently released an eye-opening report that outlined a common truth behind tech internship applications for female students.

The 2019 GWC alumni data report, Applying For Internships as a Woman in Tech Findings from a Survey of GWC-Affiliated Women, highlights negative experiences that respondents (or their friends) have had while applying for a job in tech.

“We’ve brought our girls so far- through obstacles in elementary, middle, high school, and college – only to face this kind of behaviour in the workforce. What’s worse, though, is that it’s happening in an industry that claims to be working toward gender parity,” Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, exclaims.

Key Findings from the GWC report

Sourced from the report, here are a few key findings the survey revealed:

  • In September, 152 alumni who are third/ fourth-year college students completed an anonymous survey sharing their internship application experiences. A sizable proportion (69, or 43 percent) of respondents reported that they had negative experiences; half (77, or 50 percent) know other women who have had such experiences.
  • One-quarter of women surveyed have had an interviewer focus on their personal attributes rather than their skills (74, or 25 percent).
  • Of those who had negative experiences, the majority (158, or 54 percent) interviewed at a company with a noticeable lack of staff diversity.
  • Nearly one-quarter of women have encountered biased questions or inappropriate verbal remarks (61, or 21 percent).

These experiences also left students feeling vulnerable and disappointed by the lack of diversity and discriminatory comments or practices, especially when their educators are fighting for gender equality and balance in the global field of tech.

The GWC report also featured insightful testimonials from respondents who had applied to tech internships.

Commenting on the interview process, one female student states, “It’s so frustrating only to be interviewed by men for technical interviews. Companies tout diversity, but it never shows in their recruiting.”

“When I introduced myself, the interviewer looked surprised to see me since my name is unisex and then asked if I was in the right place. Overall, I just didn’t feel comfortable,” another female respondent notes.

Many will say that this is only a handful of respondents, reflecting only a handful of tech-based companies, therefore making it an isolated issue.

But even a quick Google search unveils thousands of testimonials that express negative experiences for female students in the tech sector. It’s easy to see that the gender gap is still ride on all corners of the globe. It’s an issue that’s desperately in need positive and progressive minds.

*Read the full GWC report here.

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