SEATTLE — From making up just a quarter of the workforce to making significantly less than their male counterparts, women in tech face major challenges. However, there are efforts to turn the tide and there's proof it can boost a company's bottom line.
Jonathan Sposato, the co-founder and chairman of Geekwire, made national headlines when he said he would only support companies that had female founders or CEOs. This is becoming a trend across corporations, especially in the tech workforce.
"If you have more women present, especially at management and senior levels like a CEO, you get better results," Sposato said. "The actual data proves this. If you add three women on your board of directors -- if you go from zero women to three women -- you can increase profitability by 26 percent."
Long term, having a CEO who is a woman could mean a 226 percent higher return on equity than her male counterpart.
Sposato says it's not to say one gender is better than the other, but when men and women work together, they problem-solve better, communicate with customers better, are more innovative and create better workplace culture.
Melinda Gates announced her philanthropic group Pivotal Ventures will commit $50 million to get more women in tech, and it will invest in cities that typically don't get a lot of venture capitalist funding, like Chicago.
Gates previously shared her concerns about the widening gender gap.
Women make up about 26 percent of the tech force across the country. They are paid roughly 83 percent of what men are paid in the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That gap widened since 2015, when women made nearly 87 percent of their male counterparts.
Where women live matters, too.
Smart Asset recently looked at the best cities for women in tech. The East Coast dominated the list, though the No. 5 spot went to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Seattle did not make the list, but neither did a lot of big cities. Smart Asset looked at the gender pay gap, earnings after housing costs, women's representation in the tech workforce and employment growth.
Recruiting and retaining women in any business is an issue, Sposato said. He is the author of a book called "Better Together: 8 Ways Working with Women Leads to Extraordinary Products and Profits." He encourages women to never give up, but in the same breath, says company leaders need to do a better job of impacting culture and supporting the pipeline to draw women in. Even though women are graduating from STEM fields at around 51 percent, there is a sharp decline in numbers when it comes to retaining that talent.
Sposato says Seattle can influence the globe.
"I'm a big believer what happens in Seattle matters to the rest of the world," Sposato said. "We need to make sure that we continue with the right kind of leadership, the right kind of culture building -- advancing more women into senior ranks and onto boards -- because then it becomes this virtuous cycle."