There’s no doubt about it; if you read the statistics, the tech industry has a problem with the number of women who work within it.
Throughout the different forms of technology, there’s a gender gap that just keeps coming up again and again.
Let's take a deeper look into those stats:
Even if you take the issue outside of the career section, women are still interested in tech. We have blogs; we care about the specs of the latest gadget; we read magazines dedicated to discussing it. There’s plenty of interest and to say there is not is a blatant falsehood.
What might be going on here is that women are not vocal to men about their interest in tech. This might be because they want to appear more stereotypically “feminine”, or because they fear a backlash if they express their thoughts in public.
And let’s be clear: they are justified in thinking there might be a backlash. Barely a week goes by without a woman being berated on Twitter when expressing an opinion on tech and we live in a world where something as vitriolic as #GamerGate happened. There’s good reason women aren’t vocal about their interest in technology, but it’s unfair this is used to say it just outright doesn’t exist. It’d be far healthier to challenge the reasons women don’t talk about it than to make that kind of presumption.
Even if women have not directly experienced this kind of problem, the knowledge that it exists may make them more timid or concerned about being vocal. Part of challenging this problem needs to focus on inspiring confidence to be proud of achievements, rather than worrying about the response to them.
One way of challenging this could be emphasizing mentors for women in tech to help share the skills of those who have succeeded. If women are shy about the prospect of entering this world, being able to talk to and learn from those who have done it and flourished would make a huge difference. It would also be beneficial to focus on improving teaching methods to include a focus on the inspirational women who have worked in technology.
“Tech Is Hard Work and Women Can’t Handle It!”
This is clearly not the case; it’s not like women in every other industry have an easy time of it. Women can handle hard work just as well as men can.
Given the oddity of this statement, perhaps this is being used as a foil for a different problem? Often, these statements are more about the idea that women will want to take time out of their careers to have a family. That, they think, means that in a fast-paced world like technology, they would quickly take their finger off the pulse and thus doom their relevancy.
Of course, this would make sense if women could only be mothers; if the moment we become pregnant we lose the ability to read articles about tech and keep abreast of advancements in that way. Which, of course, is utter nonsense. Also, more and more men are choosing to take paternity leave, yet they don’t get this same response.
Myth: "Tech is too cut throat"
What this statement tends to mean, in a veiled way, is that women complain about harassment they receive in their jobs. There is still a worrying societal belief that harassment is part of a job, that everyone gets it, and that you therefore need to develop a “thick skin” to be able to survive in that culture.
What this skims over is that the easy solution isn’t just to expect everyone to shape up, but to challenge and change the culture. Not only will this have the benefit of making those statistics a little less disappointing, but it would also improve the workplace environment for everyone. It’s not a good thing to be harassed or stressed at work; it’s not inherently better if you can cope with it! It just suggests that there’s a problem that needs to be challenged for now and the future generations.
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