Hey everyone! Excited to introduce the newest guest post at And Possibly Dinosaurs. Kate Harveston is here to talk about women in technology, and why representation matters! Enjoy!
Walk into a Silicon Valley office building, or even browse the company’s website to learn about its staff, and you’ll probably wonder where all the women are. The tech industry has long been criticized for having a gender imbalance, but there’s hope!
Many dedicated people and organizations are working to improve perceptions and pave the way for women who want to shine in tech jobs. These efforts totally matter — here’s why.
Women tend to show an early interest in tech jobs
When asked about the middle-school subjects they adored most, the majority of girls say they like learning about subjects that would get them ready them for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). However, when reaching that all-important milestone of choosing their college majors, a dismal percentage of women actually decide to study programs that match their preferred middle-school subjects.
Analysts say that’s because women perceive various challenges that make it harder to succeed in the tech industry. Many of these are well-documented, so it’s easy to understand why the majority of women end up determining it’d just be easier to pick another field of study, even if whatever they go with didn’t initially capture their hearts.
Women have much to offer the tech industry, and are just as deserving as men of the chance to find jobs in a growing sector that offers challenging opportunities. In order for that to happen, though, we’ve got to break down the barriers that make women think it’s impossible to work in tech.
Creative and savvy women are combining charitable efforts and tech
Women are also making positive impacts in the tech industry by using their smarts to help others. This is an emerging phenomenon that’s sometimes known as “philtech.” So far, forward-thinking women have contributed more to social change by designing video games that allow people to easily make donations to causes during gameplay, created applications to help companies focus their charitable giving practices, and more.
Some innovative nonprofits have even appealed to potential donors in memorable ways, such as virtual reality headsets that give wearers day-in-the-life-type experiences associated with the people the charity typically helps. Women are already making headway in urging people to be more generous. They could show off their totally awesome multitasking abilities by assisting with some ongoing projects that blend tech and charitable giving, too.
There aren’t enough people to fill upcoming tech jobs
Projected statistics related to the U.S. labor market as of 2020 highlight an unsettling problem. By then, there will be 1.4 million available jobs in computing-related fields. However, compared to several decades ago, a much lower percentage of women are currently graduating with computer science degrees.
If nothing changes, those aforementioned jobs could be taken up by just a very small portion of female graduates — women only hold 28 percent of B.S. degrees in computer science.
The U.S. president and his administration have focused on how to make tech jobs available in the United States and prevent companies from having to outsource to other countries. If we don’t tackle the gender gap, those job opportunities simply won’t stay within the United States because of the lack of people with necessary skills.
Many people assert there’s no harm in having a diverse labor force made up of people from various countries, and there certainly are many benefits to that arrangement. However, if women feel compelled to make their marks in the tech sector, they can proactively help close the gender gap and take their picks of positions within a promising job market.
Women are interested in tech, but feel restricted in career progress
Ask women to name some of their top career goals, and you’ll likely hear advancement as a common response. An alarming issue associated with women in technology is that, even when they like their jobs, they’re more likely than their male counterparts to leave within a year. It’s not because they’re bored, but because they feel hindered from moving up the career ladder.
Women in technology jobs may feel extremely isolated and out of place, or believe they have fewer opportunities than male peers to progress because they’re often entering the tech field comparatively later. However, several major companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, have established pioneering programs to make these obstacles less prominent.
The Way Forward
Though the job prospects in tech clearly exist, women in technology still face more challenges than men when landing those jobs. However, you can easily replace any discouragement with empowerment when you realize there are themed organizations working solely to make the technology industry more welcoming for women.
Some notable groups include Girls Who Code, Women in Technology International, the National Center for Women and Information Technology, and Girls in Tech. Google is another major company trying to make the tech sector more inclusive for everyone, particularly women.
These examples prove there is a lot to be positive about, even though improvements still need to happen.
Whether you’re a woman who’s looking for a new career path soon, or just someone who uses technology frequently, what you’ve just read definitely applies to you! The tech sector also offers virtually limitless possibilities for growth, as technology becomes increasingly integrated into the things we do every day. Women are more than capable of adding their expertise and perspectives to the ever-evolving tech industry.
So what are we waiting for, ladies? Let’s get out there and show them what we can do.
Kate Harveston is a freelance political writer and blogger. Her work deals mainly in issues of social justice, equality and human rights. When she's not writing, she can usually be found relaxing with a book or exploring the city. To follow her writing, you can check out her blog, Only Slightly Biased.