A Male Dominated Field?
When a girl fixes a problem related to a technological field or when a girl writes a perfect code, most of the people are like “Wait, how do you know about them? You are a girl and you should not be doing that!”
Computing and technology are mainly populated by boys, yet both genders love technology. Although girls enjoy owning the latest devices, society tends to think that they would never have a desire of constructing such devices or learn how all the technologies have been tethered in creating that device. Ideas related to gender and technology start inculcating in a child’s mind since earliest childhood: boys are encouraged to play computer games and be familiar with technologies, while girls are given toy makeup, dolls and fashion sets. This unconscious and biased situation impacts on the thinking pattern of the society.
If someone looks up for famous tech leaders or computer scientists on Google, an image search will display an array of faces of males. Indeed, women in tech fields are rare. However, it is not reasonable to say that technology is a male-dominated field.
History says it all
However, in reality – with or without public recognition – women also have been a keystone in the history of computing and technology. When going through history, we can find that the first programmers were women. Grace Hopper, who is known as the “Queen of Software” and Ada Lovelace are the most commonly known two names who are considered as the first female programmers. Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage (who is known as the Father of the modern computer) and she was the one who suggested that the Analytical Engine could be used for more than just numbers. Grace Hopper was the first person who created a compiler for a programming language and she was one of the first programmers of the Mark I computer, an electro-mechanical computer based on Analytical Engine.
There have been many, many other women who have made their careers in computer science, but whose stories have been forgotten.
“Programming was a pink-collar profession for about the first decade. There were some men, but it was actually hugely women.”– Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project –
Where are the women in tech?
Women currently make up 30% of the 7 million people working in Europe’s digital sector. The gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) industries remains high. Women represent only around 26% of the STEM workforce in developed countries. This percentage is much lower in developing countries.
Recently, less than 40% of the total workforce in some of the top tech companies is women and when considering only tech-related roles, the figures are getting smaller.– Luxton, E. (2016, April 28), ‘Where are the women in tech?’. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org –According to the International Communication Union, in point of view of most of the women, the technology sector is male-dominated.
According to the latest statistics, still, there is relatively a low number of women participation. Apple has 20% of women employees in technology; Google has 17% of women in its workforce, while Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have 16.6%, 15% and 10% respectively.– Kvochko, E. 2016, ‘Why there are still few women leaders in Tech’, Forbes, Jan 4, 2016 –Here are some steps which could be taken in order to increase the women representatives in these fields.
Policies should encourage increased access, training and use of the Internet for females. Women should be empowered and encouraged to pursue careers in technology with concrete targets for gender equity in this area. Scholarships and grant programs should be made available to support women in science and technology training and research, and ICT-related business training programs should target women to promote and assist women tech entrepreneurs.
Girl Geek Dinners (an International group for women of all ages), Girls Who Code (a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology), LinuxChix (a women-oriented community in the open source movement), National Center for Women & Information Technology (a nonprofit that increases the number of women in technology and computing), Systers (a moderated listserv dedicated to mentoring women in the Systers community) are examples of some notable organizations built up for women who involve in computing sector.
According to the facts outlined above, it is necessary to fix the tech industry’s gender gap. In today’s world, some of the old-fashioned views are not concerned. Technology might be a male-dominated field, but teenage girls appear to be proving they are better at the subject. Girls tend to learn more about technological fields. To come up with an example which is personally known, the percentage of BSc. Management and IT female undergraduates at the University of Kelaniya have been increased from 4% to 50% within the last 50 years.
In present Sri Lanka, there is no ceiling on the types of careers available for women. These are some of the career paths women are following at present with regard to Information Technology – webmasters, web designers, graphic designers, information analysts, business analysts, software quality engineers and data entry operators, etc. Women take ICT skills to the next level in Sri Lanka.
Following are some worldwide examples of women who are dedicated to the tech industry. Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) is an example of a woman who is pushing through all barriers in gender roles in the field of ICT and Technology. She is a standout figure who was once mentioned as one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes. She is a living proof that women can succeed within the technology sector. Sandberg is just one of many women taking key roles within top technology companies, such as Susan Wojcicki – CEO of YouTube, Meg Whitman – former CEO of HP, Danae Ringlemann – Cofounder of Indiegogo, Gwynne Shotwell – President and Chief operating officer at SpaceX, Kara Swisher – Co-Founder of Re/code, Jennifer Pahlka – Founder and Executive Director of Code for America, Safra Catz – Co-CEO of Oracle, Grace Woo – Co-founder of Pixels.IO and Caterina Fake – Founder & CEO of Findery, Co-founder of Flickr and Hunch . These women have worked tirelessly to shape the modern tech industry in a unique way.
Yet the tech world is still a boy’s club, women are breaking down the door!
Exposition Magazine Issue 14
Department of Industrial Management
University of Kelaniya