Gender in the GIS Workforce

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A recent GIS job survey run on GIS Lounge sought to understand the state of gender balance in the GIS industry.  To date, the survey has collected responses from 1,186 GIS professionals (the survey is still open for participants to submit responses here).

Global GIS Job Respondents

On a global level, there are a little less than twice as many males as females working in the GIS industry.  Of the respondents, 750 (63%) were males and 436 (37%) were female.

The respondents came from all levels within GIS:

GIS-job-title

A total of 42 countries had at least one respondent to the survey.  The country with the most respondents was the United States with 690 survey submission, representing 58.4% of the total valid location-based responses (1162 of the 1186 responses provided a location).  Canada with 64 and the United Kingdom with 63 were the next most populous response countries.  Australia with 31 was the fourth ranked country in terms of respondents, followed by India with 20.

Geography of Gender Distribution in GIS

Most of respondent countries had too few entries to be able to make any statistically significant conclusions about gender balance in those countries.  For example, all ten of the respondents for Sweden were male.

Looking at the United States, the overall gender breakdown is pretty well balanced.  Of the 690 US-based respondents,  315 (45.7%) were female and 375 (54.3%) were male.  By contrast, only 21 (32.8%) of the 64 respondents for Canada were female.  The United Kingdom had an even lower percentage of females with only 15 (23.8%) of the 63 respondents being female.

Map of GIS Professionals by Gender

The interactive map below shows the location of all geocoded respondents by gender.  Red indicates female and blue indicates male.


Breakdown of GIS Job Titles

Looking at the gender balance at the GIS title level indicates that for Interns, Technicians, and Specialist, the gender ratio is pretty well aligned with the overall ratio for all GIS professionals.  The Analyst position shows the best gender balance with 44.9% female to 55.1% males.  The Developer and Executive positions show the most gender imbalance.  Females who are GIS developers only represent 24.4% of the total for that group.  Only 22.22% of those in Executive Management (such as GIOs) report to be female.  (For an overview of different GIS job titles visit the Building a GIS Career article).

GenderInternTechnicianSpecialistAnalystDeveloperManagementExecutive
Female27667514530748
Male41931401789315628
Total6815921532312323036

Future Survey Results

If the ongoing GIS and gender survey can pull a greater number of respondents, particularly from around the world, I hope to provide an update in the future.



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5 Comments

  1. It is unfortunate that this survey propagates the binary gender identity frame. It would have been interesting to see the full spectrum of gender identities included. However, this fact of the survey design corresponds with my experience that the field of GIS tends to have a pretty conservative worldview. Given that geospatial professionals are quite capable of seeing the world in different ways (think map projections), this is a sad irony.

      1. Catilin:

        Being careful not to conflate sexual orientation with gender, some common options might include:

        *Transgender/MtF
        *Transgender/FtoM
        *Gender queer
        *Intersex
        *Other

        Gender is best understood as existing on a spectrum, rather than in discrete divisions. For a general overview, see:

        https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender

        For a more nuanced overview:

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/15/the-complete-glossary-of-facebook-s-51-gender-options.html

        …or search on the phrase “gender expression” in your preferred search engine.

      2. I have added “other” where applicants can enter their gender to the M/F list which will allow for a range of input.

  2. Thanks for working on this — it definitely is an interesting and important topic. I wonder how accurate the results of a self-reported, self-selected group of responses is, though. For example, women may be more likely than men to complete a survey about gender balance, thereby skewing the results.

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