From what we have seen over the last couple of years I think we can definitely say that the number of women in IT is increasing, but it’s still a fraction in comparison to men, not to mention the lack of minority representation. Back when we used to physically attend conferences and events, the difference between the number of men and women was still quite visible, and I hope that improves in the future.
There are many factors that contribute to gender inequality in IT, and society is just one of them. I think the biggest problem is the lack of opportunity for young women, or generally people that are just starting out in the field. The bar is so high in IT that sometimes candidates are dismissed for not having years of experience, a second degree, or an expensive certificate from an exclusive institute. Giving young women opportunities, mentoring and introducing them to the field can be a way for the industry to overcome what society has imposed for so long.
As for how a woman can build her confidence as an IT specialist, I’d highlight that practice makes perfect: even if something looks difficult or unfamiliar at first, the only way to get better at something is simply by trying. We also need to be more forgiving of our own shortcomings and failures, because sometimes these make for the best learning experiences.
Building a supportive environment is also crucial, especially in a predominantly homogeneous setting where the «small percentage» is often overlooked. The best advice I’ve received in this regard is to try and place myself in the other person’s shoes. Only by attempting to see things from someone else’s perspective and not our own will we understand their struggles and be able to truly hear and support them.
My advice to women who are considering starting in IT is not to overwhelm themselves with too much information. This is a huge field with many specialties; therefore it’s best to start with a specific interest in mind such as learning a programming language, or studying networks, and to grow from there.