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Girl Geeks Rule

Girl geeks rule! Houston among cities with most women in tech jobs - and having female mayor helps

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Annise Parker at National Press Club in Washington D.C. December 2013
Mayor Annise Parker (file photo). Cities with a female mayor tend to have a higher percentage of women in technology. Photo by Noel St. John

Houston isn't always thought of as a technology hub, but new research shows that Space City ranks in the Top Ten among cities with women holding computer, math and other tech jobs.

And the election of Mayor Annise Parker may have something to do with it.

 Houston ranks No. 8, with 34.25 percent of the tech community here comprised of women. 

To explore the state of women in tech across the United States, RJMetrics looked at data from Meetup’s publicly accessible API and the U.S. Census Bureau for the 50 largest cities — first by downloading information about every meetup in the technology category, then using census data to arrive at gender. In doing this, the business intelligence firm learned that women comprise about 29 percent of the tech community nationwide.

Of those 50 cities, 17 boast higher-than-average numbers of women in tech. Houston ranks No. 8, with 34.25 percent of the tech community here comprised of women.

Dallas’ 39.97 percent was enough for a No. 5 ranking. At 64.81 percent, Las Vegas ran away with top honors; No. 2 Oakland trailed by almost 20 percentage points, at 46.8 percent. Nashville and Miami earned the Nos. 3 and 4 spot, respectively. Austin ranks No. 15.

RJMetrics surmised that Vegas’ numbers could be influenced by the city’s female leadership and notoriety for gender paycheck equality. In looking at the 50 biggest tech cities, having a female mayor positively correlated with more women in tech; hence the election of Parker as Houston's mayor is believed to help the city's rankings in this category, according to the survey.

Other research corroborates that female leaders in civic roles influences the educational choices of younger females. Of course it’s worth noting that female mayors is by no means the primary influence on women in tech. A city is an ecosystem and big changes tend to happen as a result of many small factors shifting."

Another interesting stat: 22 percent of all Meetup groups are led by women, although these groups do not necessarily have a higher ratio of female members. The truth is, the disparity between the number of men and women in the technology sector isn’t just a gender issue; it affects the industry as a whole.

“Women in tech is often thought of as a softer, social good type of issue, and that’s the wrong way to look at it. This is an economic issue,” says Anita Garimella Andrews, VP of client analytics services at RJMetrics and founding trustee of TechGirlz, a nonprofit dedicated to helping adolescent girls realize that a job in technology does not equate to a “boring computer job.”

“There is a mismatch between the number of STEM jobs projected in the U.S. and the population of U.S.-based talent to fill those positions. Getting women in tech is a ‘must have’ for the future growth of these industries.”

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