The gender gap exhibited in the tech workforce is becoming increasingly more evident, which begs the question, What Inspires Future Generations of Women in Tech? It’s no secret that there are a significantly fewer women currently in tech than there are men. The female population makes up half of the US workforce and yet only one-fourth are said to be in the IT industry, according to Girls Who Code. Taking a deeper look into the challenges that women are facing helps us better understand how they can actually find an advantage in pursuing positions in this male-dominated industry.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the major factors impacting why there are so few women in tech.
- Trained gender expectations – The current generation of women in the tech industry were raised with clearly differentiated gender roles as children. They didn’t have respected companies like Target regularly taking a stand for gender equality like we do now. This cultural expectation that existed between how women and men should spend their time has undoubtedly impacted the industries that women of this generation have gravitated towards. As more women become empowered to define themselves based on what’s important to them, rather than a boxed lifestyle that society expects them to embody, the perceived availability of female success in STEM industries continues to shift in their favor.
- Role model absence – Existing almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy, the lack of a strong female presence in the tech industry has left many aspiring women feeling unsupported. With more women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer taking a public stand for their success in the tech space, female tech positions are growing 238% faster than male positions.
- Lingering Negative Stereotyping – The pressure of negative stereotypes like “women are bad at math” are subtle, but effective. Maria Filippousi explains that whenever she joins a new team, typically full of men, she feels as though she has to “qualify every time.” Feeling like you have to consistently prove your worth can be discouraging, and often leads to women dropping out of the tech industry, or avoiding it altogether. Studies suggest that the stereotypes themselves are what exist as fulfilling prophesies. Again, as more and more women find success in STEM companies, this stereotype loses its fuel.
As you can see, women have had their reasons for shying away from what could be exquisite careers in tech. Though these factors have pushed them away in the past, the traction seen over the past few years has already begun decreasing the gender gap, encouraging more women to pursue their dreams in development and design.
Now that we’ve shed some light on the question why aren’t there more female programmers, Let’s talk about how we can sustain the increasing female prominence in the tech space!
Many programs have been developed during this upswing in female interest in tech that help young girls hone their coding and development skills. Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code is just one of the many examples of successful women whose goal is to inspire the next generation of young ladies to follow a path in STEM fields. Her Girls Who Code programs “work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.”www.girlswhocode.com These programs give young women the chance to explore their passion, talent, and to be open to the idea of a possible career in technology. If we can inspire in our younger generations of women a sense of belonging in STEM fields, there’s no knowing the impact that will be had on the development of new technology.
Maria Tangarova and Traci Sepp
Jam Packed Tech