By Jackie Young | March 28, 2018
In this guest post, Jackie Young shares her thoughts about closing the tech gender gap. After a career that started in software development and IT teaching, Jackie Young now focuses on writing about tech, software and innovations for a range of publications. When she’s not writing, she’s a mom to two girls, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. Jackie also has autism and in her free time supports a number of organizations and charities to help other people with the condition.
The tech industry is growing at an unprecedented rate, revolutionizing just about every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, even in today’s pro-feminist society, women are underrepresented in the tech sector. Women hold less than a third of all jobs in technology. From cell phones to software, most tech companies tend to have a gender ratio that favors men. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, it’s important that we address this issue on an international level and take steps to help introduce more women into the technology sector.
The Gender Gap Issue
The gender gap in the technology industry may not have far-reaching consequences now, but if the trend continues, we can expect to see women losing out on the best professional opportunities of the future. If women continue to be underrepresented as a group in companies such as Google or SpaceX, the issue may snowball. Fewer women will be in the industry to provide support and increase engagement for aspiring young professionals. To fix the gender gap in the future, it’s important that we start making strides now.
Why is There a Gap?
Women are just as capable as men in tech-related positions, so why is there such a notable gender disparity in the industry? There are many common misconceptions held by both men and women that affect the rate at which women enter the tech field. Men have long been purported to be better at subjects such as math and science, but really, the only difference between genders during testing is their confidence levels. Given the right support network, women perform just as well as men on technical subjects in school.
These misconceptions about gender-related abilities are a large part of what keeps women from entering the tech field. Some women may also feel either unable or unwilling to join the tech sector thanks to its reputation as a boy’s club.
Working mothers often have difficulty advancing in a tech career due to the industry’s demanding hours. Many tech companies, especially startups, encourage a culture where employees work long hours and neglect personal responsibilities. This can make it difficult for many women to balance home and work life.
Closing the Gap
Making a fundamental change to the tech sector starts with education. Schools need to introduce programs that encourage both young boys and girls to develop an interest in technology. Too many elementary, middle, and high schools lack basic computer classes that help students learn skills that are becoming more and more essential in today’s world.
While courses such as English and Biology are mandatory requirements in U.S. schools, only around forty percent of educational institutions teach computer programming. Luckily, schools around the world are working to improve technology-related education. England recently became the first European country to mandate computer science classes, with Italy planning to follow. The U.S. is also seeing slow changes, especially in tech hubs such as the Silicon Valley.
The tech industry is growing now faster than ever, but unfortunately, the number of professional women in the field is not booming quite as quickly. It’s essential that we work to address this problem through support networks and educational initiatives, giving the women of the future a better chance of breaking into the tech industry.