The Technology industry has undergone a cycle of change, where women have come to pitch their tent and the “male dominates” stereotype does not apply as much as it did a few decades back.
While we cannot say with a thump to the chest that the final goal of integrating women seamlessly into the technology industry has been achieved, there has been a leap in this feat and from the look of things, it can only get better from here.
While we celebrate the strides women in technology have made over the years, we are going to go for the jugular and dissect social issues women in technology face every single day, at their workplaces, conferences, amidst their male or female counterparts.
Listed below are some of the social challenges faced by women in technology:
1. SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS OF CAREER CHOICES WOMEN SHOULD MAKE:
The technology industry is still one of the few fields men dominate largely. This is due to the fact that many women choose to avoid STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields in favor of other options. While this cannot be broken down to an innate incapability of women in pursuing STEM Instead it can be traced to a demographic imbalance of society’s expectations of the kinds of career women should pursue. While progress has been made in disparaging this pre-conceived notion on what kind of career a woman should or should not pursue, there is still a lot of work to be done on realigning and reorienting society.
2. CONSTANT SEXUAL ADVANCES:
This is a problem faced by most women in technology as most IT organizations have a low male to female workforce ratio, the shortage of women makes for field hunting for the male colleagues who look for any reason or avenue to hit on the few women they work with. This can be irritating and disturbing especially when you are trying to get work done.
3. PROBLEM OF SEEKING INVESTORS:
The stereotypical image of the successful tech entrepreneur is a young male who is in his 20’s or 30’s, nerdy (wears a pair of glasses), from an upper middle-class home, and the right dose of antisocial. Most people can relate to this image and likewise investors in technology, subconsciously perhaps are more likely to feel comfortable in investing their resources in a start-up or young technology firm with the CEO fitting into this certain mold.
4. A PERCEIVED LACK OF FEMALE ROLE MODELS:
Stanford University runs one of the best computer science programs in the country yet only 23.5 percent of Computer Science degrees were awarded to women last year. This simply is not enough. Mainstream Media plays a great role in the inadequate representation of women in technology. Misleading images of individuals who make up the technology industry in movies, cartoons and other media products limits the minds of many a young female who could have had a wonderful career in technology. Notable female role models to emulate in technology are Brina Lee (The first female engineer at Instagram) and Allison Korczynski (A top electrical engineer at Microsoft).
5. WORK/HOME BALANCE:
The need not to slack in both key areas of a woman’s life can become an obstacle to succeed in the world of technology. While both genders try to achieve the “work and home” balance. It is steeper for women who are basically the henchmen for domestic affairs most times than usual. Being a mother to a kid or more while trying to pit your wit in the industry is as challenging as it gets. Most family oriented women suffer a discreet low expectation from their peers or superior at work or a glass ceiling is usually in place to limit the career rise of women who share her devotion to work with her home.
6. MASKING ACHIEVEMENTS:
Being in a situation where you feel out of place can shape your response to certain things in a peculiar way. Women in technology have had to play the underdog for a long while and have subconsciously had to feign humility in their accomplishments. Few female CEOs have openly admitted to downplaying their success, using “We” instead of “I” when presenting an idea to create a more flexible tone to potential investors.
Social Challenges Faced by Women In Technology is real.
It is definitely not one of those hashtag moments that can be swept under the rug after a few shares and likes,
The STEM fields have become increasingly open for women, year after year. It is important to create an enabling and warmer environment to encourage young females to explore their options in the technology field.
Cutting down stereotypes, sensitizing young girls with IT related games, and tasks, Computer boot-camps, and more are some of the ways to get started with these challenges.
Written by Iva June and Demi Oye