Reprinted with permission from NextGeneration.
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector. Not only that, but they’re underpaid, often passed over for promotions and faced with everyday sexism. It’s no wonder women are more likely to leave the industry within a year compared to their male counterparts.
So what’s going on?
To dissect the problem, we need to look at early development. In high school, girls achieve better grades than boys. Yet for women who do pursue computer science at the university level, they find themselves outnumbered by men—82 percent versus 17 percent—one of the highest gender disparities in course subjects. And this imbalance isn’t helped by the falling trend of females taking up science, maths and computing courses. One reason more girls don’t pursue math- and science-related degrees could be the ‘pinkification’ of girls in early age: Toys, clothes and job possibilities are still marketed towards either gender, despite recent developments reversing this historic trend.
This lack of women taking up tech-related degrees translates into the workforce, where at many tech companies, males form the overwhelming majority of employees. This leads to women experiencing sexism and feeling like they don’t belong. According to a survey by The Guardian, 73 percent of workers in the tech industry believe the field is sexist.
More women leaving the industry means fewer role models at the top, which further discourages women from entering the tech field. Having key women in senior leadership roles can positively encourage other women to join organizations that clearly support the advancement of women’s careers.
Besides sexism, role models and stereotypes, the industry also makes it difficult to combine having a tech career with motherhood. In a recent study reported in Fortune, 85 percent of 716 women surveyed who have left the tech industry cite maternity leave policies as a major factor in their decision to leave.
This all has real-world consequences for the future of society and technology. How can devices and programs be built for everyone, if not everyone is involved in production?
It’s time we focus on the next generation of tech talent, and make sure gender equality exists for the good of everyone. This means more flexible working arrangements, more women in leadership roles and more encouragement at an early age for girls and boys to pursue whatever they are naturally interested in.
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