If you go to Google and search for “women in technology,” the first search options that appear when you type in “women in” are “women in bikinis,” and “women in the Bible.” Those search results make a pretty poignant statement regarding the glacial progress of gender equality. In 2016 women are still held to a standard that is either hypersexual, or modest and demure. How are woman perceived in the workforce, and more specifically, in the tech industry? In the wake of International Women’s Day I felt it appropriate to broach the issue concerning the miniscule amount of women in the tech industry. Women represent only 25% of the tech industry, 8% of tech startups, and 15% of senior management in all industries. These abysmal statistics are a reflection of the deep seeded stereotypes prevalent in our culture. One of those being that men have a more developed capability in math and science, than women.
You’d think that in a time when Google has a female CFO, being paid a reported $70 million, things are taking a positive turn for women in the tech world. Yet, the statistics exhibit just the opposite. I think most of us can agree we are taught as children to gender scholastic disciplines. Studies have found that by 1st grade, most children associate math and science with boys, and the humanities with girls. Is it surprising we have these stereotypes ingrained in our subconscious? If we consider, very generally, women in leadership roles historically, most of their livelihood consisted of embroidery, music, dancing, listening to bards, taking care of children, and engaging in the occasional diplomatic meeting. Cartography, anatomy, astronomy, and anything mathematical was left to the men, or the clergy, with the exception of the occasional female anomaly. Although some cultures have progressed in this way of thinking more than others, women are obviously still struggling, myself included, to break out of their gendered way of thinking about math and computing. With that being said, it’s up to women, as individuals to combat these stereotypes by believing they are capable of doing more than they are absolutely comfortable with. Ladies, people don’t want to invest in you if you don’t have confidence in your own capabilities.
All this begs the question: what can be done in the work place to cultivate an environment that encourages women in their tech and leadership roles? Christine Corbett, co-author of the American Association University of Women, contends there is a sense of superiority associated with men and math competency, and that these prejudices are prevalent in the workplace. Corbett encourages hiring managers to make diversity a deliberate part of the hiring process. This includes the consideration of women’s characteristically unbalanced work-life balance ratio in comparison with men. Within the diverse workplace, it is important for the executive leadership to foster an environment where women are challenged to assess their own confidence and capabilities. In order to fight this uphill battle in the tech world, women must also consider what sets them apart. Social media presence is dominated by women in the startup industry and Theresia Ranzetta of Accel Partners’ argues that in this women have a “critical and valuable role to play at the founding and executive table of tech startups.”
At Moxy, we work in a diverse environment where women are the bosses, our lead developer is a woman, our principle designer is a man, and our staffing division is a solid mix of both. As a staffing agency we see firsthand the disproportionate amount of women in hard hitting computing roles, and leadership positions. Our team strives to encourage the businesses we partner with to consider each candidate based on qualifications and growth potential. So ladies, go ahead and apply for the higher level positions, or make a career change and start learning code! We can be more than mothers, teachers, and creatives if we want to do so. It’s time we show our unique abilities to the tech industry!