Why more women should take tech jobs
Tech careers have been male-dominated since the tech boom of the early 90s. Although the percentage of women earning tech degrees has risen steadily in the last several years, the percentage of women working in tech fields remains low. Tech jobs are widely known as high-paying positions, which begs the questions: why aren’t there more women working in tech?
Gender Discrimination in Tech
Even as more women continue education and acquire a higher percentage of STEM degrees, a lot of women either never enter the field, or simply do not stay in the field for long. STEM fields have long been known to have a “boys club” work environment that perpetuates toxic masculinity and condones sexist behavior, which makes it difficult for the few women in any given tech department to feel comfortable in the workplace.
These kind of environments make it difficult for women to feel comfortable pursuing promotions and climbing up the corporate ladder. Even as more women pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields, women account for only 16 percent of executive teams. They must often outshine their male peers, be accommodating to men’s communication styles and place any familial obligations on the backburner.
The lack of women in STEM and executive roles is recognized as one of the largest contributors to the pay gap. Using systemic change in the form of university and government programs and campaigns to get more women into these STEM fields is one of the main initiatives to closing the wage gap. As we get more women into STEM, a wheel starts turning that makes progress easier as the workplace culture changes.
Getting Involved in Tech
As women take on more prominent roles in tech fields, more women are encouraged to be a part of these departments and positions after the trails have been blazed. It becomes easier for women to look up to others in the roles they hope to see themselves in and find career mentors who can help them understand how to navigate their way through the ever-changing social climate of the tech industry.
Gender discrimination comes in many ways and until there are more women in tech positions, there will always be room for bias from the men in prominent positions. Affinity bias is one form of gender discrimination that describes the bias men have in hiring other men over women. Often times, people have a preference for like-minded individuals, so when the hiring manager is a man, they can often prefer to hire more men, which contributes to the uneven number of men and women in these positions. While bias can often be unintentional, it is still harmful and one more obstacle for women to overcome in the workplace.
Gender discrimination is statistically prevalent in tech, but as programs to raise the number of women in tech continue, we are starting to see the gender gaps lessen. Affinity bias and other types of gender discrimination will continue until there is a greater understanding of what casual sexism in the workplace looks like and until there is systemic change that creates more opportunities for women, and celebrates the differences between genders.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world--especially those related to gender and workplace relations. Make a comment below or reach out to her on Twitter @a_taylorian.
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