It's a troubling trend, and while there are no easy answers, being able to identify the pattern is one step toward addressing it, Bardaro says.
"We do see a smaller presence by women in tech-defined jobs and in college majors," she says. "When we asked 'why,' we find that traditional gender roles and expectations are at the root —what society as a whole expects women to do is assume primary responsibility for the majority of the home and childcare responsibilities, and that expectation is insidious," Bardaro says.
While women and men have the same aptitude when tested at a very young age, when their achievements, experience and skills are the same, theres no difference in their performance and thus in their pay, she says. But the gender salary gap will certainly make a comeback if fewer women are entering the technology field.
How to Get More Women Into Tech Jobs
What can be done to encourage women to enter the IT field, and what lessons can be extrapolated from the tech industry to other, less egalitarian fields in an effort to eliminate the gender wage gap?
The system itself needs to change, says Melland, to encourage women to pursue education and careers in the field, and to remove some of the burden of family, home and childcare responsibilities from women's shoulders.
Technology's importance grows each year, as more businesses and industries rely on it to grow and thrive. Therefore, the need for skilled, experienced workers in the field also will expand. Employers need to make sure they are attracting the best and brightest, including more women.
"We need to start as young as possible to encourage movement into [science, math, and technology] roles and careers," Bardaro says. "Society as a whole needs to understand that home and family responsibilities arent just a womans responsibility, and employers need to understand their employees both men and women need flexibility and a willingness to accommodate their family and work-life balance needs," she says.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.