Let’s be candid. Being a woman software developer can be tough, if not downright daunting. The gender gap in Silicon Valley is quite evident, with women often overlooked as a source of app or software developers. The good news is that the gap is shrinking, but a lot needs to be done down the road. And despite having a difficult time making it in the industry, women app developers have the potential to cause a seismic shift in the software industry as a whole.

A Look at the Hard Numbers

Yes, women are still underrepresented in the software industry, but things are looking up. According to PayScale, only 10 percent of software engineers are women, with 90 percent being male. But a recent comprehensive study conducted by software-related site HackerRank shows that that figure has jumped to a whopping 24 percent in past couple of years. That in and of itself is good news because it shows that tech is becoming a more welcoming place for women.

Given that software & app development is a lucrative niche, we’ll continue to see more and more women flock to the industry. Which brings us to salary. The salary for a software engineer ranges from $51,752 to around $109,000, with the average being $75,000 (according to Monster.com). While women still make up less than 20% of software development workforce, their salaries are closely equal to those of their male counterparts. In fact, the great news is that the average salary of a female software engineer has enjoyed an uptick of 21 percent from $62,000 in 2009. The same cannot be said about other STEM professions.

Women Developers Still Find it Hard to Move Up the Career Ladder

While the gender and pay gap in software is dwindling fast, according to the HackerRank study, women are still unfairly stuck in junior positions. Oftentimes that means women find it difficult to move up from junior software developers to high-ranking positions such as Senior Software, Principal Software, or even Lead Software Development Engineer. Remember these are positions that pay handsomely and deliver better perks in the software space.

So, what’s to blame for this disproportionate treatment of women in software? Some experts think that sexism and bro culture are the biggest culprits. Considering that few women software engineers are in higher echelons, young and upcoming female developers often fail to find the right mentors and role models, which gives their male colleagues a head start.

The Future is Bright

The HackerRank study shows that industry-wide efforts to close the gender gap and bolster female representation are already bearing fruits, albeit slowly. Needless to say, movements such as #TimesUp and #MeToo will go a long way to accelerate the change. After all, women are proficient in the top 6 programming languages, namely Python, C, C++, Javascript, PHP, and Java, all of which companies find attractive in full-stack, back-end, and front-end software developers. And despite the male-dominated culture, women developers are trailblazing and building nifty software in several fields, most notably education, finance, and retail.

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AuthorPhil Ainsworth