Representation is important, and more voices at the table make for better decisions, better products, and more inclusive business practices. While the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math continue to grow and change, the need for highly-motivated, well-trained women is also on the rise. However, men still make up nearly 75% of the STEM workforce and women still face several barriers to entry in these high-demand careers.
Women’s History Month has often focused on gender equality in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and the lack thereof. The issues that result in low numbers begin early in life and continue into higher education. By the time students reach college, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM majors. Only around 19% of computer and information science majors are women. And only 38% of women who major in computers end up working work in computer fields.
The tech industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. We live in a digital era where technology has become an essential part of our daily lives and work processes. For this reason, we need tech companies that create software that improves our lives, cybersecurity agencies that protect our online data, and experts who develop new technologies annually.
There is a high demand for technology and people who specialize in this field. What strikes me the most is the lack of diversity in such an essential industry like tech. Are the most qualified people always white and male? Or are other groups of people intentionally underrepresented?
Editor’s Note: This was the introductory presentation at the 2021 Diversity Town Hall in partnership with the Gary W. Rollins College of Business /U. of TN at Chattanooga (Moderator Dr. Gail Dawson) and the American Diversity Report.
I appreciate both the eagerness and anxiety about the future of the diverse workplace and I’m often asked to predict what that future will look like. Predicting the future requires looking at the past – at the history of the diversity field and how it developed. I’ll get personal here and go back to New York City 40 years ago. I had just graduated college with a degree in anthropology based on cultural structuralism along with the science of storytelling. I was excited about getting a job, but was considered esoteric and irrelevant. And female. No one would hire me. Still hopeful, I went to an employment agency in Manhattan. As soon as I walked in the door, the office manager insisted that I sit at the all-women’s table and take a typing test. I said no and moved to sit at the all-men’s table where they were interviewed for executive positions. The manager said no. I insisted, he physically blocked me. I insisted again, he threatened to call the police.
‘Make It Count’ Event Commemorates Centennial of Women’s Right to Vote, Highlights Equity and Education
This year of 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of a remarkable shift in the women’s suffrage movement—the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 which ensured a woman’s constitutional right to vote.
When my family moved to America from British Bermuda, I was still in elementary school, having completed first form, the equivalent of first grade, at the Bermuda High School (BHS) for Girls. Uniform and uniformed, I marched in step with the other girls, just as my mother had done through her entire schooling at BHS. Yes, I did stand out as the only Jewish girl in the school, or anywhere on the island. But generations of my family were well known on the island, so the singularity was tolerable. Inserted into a New York City suburb, I was delighted to find that this particular oddity was completely irrelevant. For better or worse, I still stuck out and a confidence crisis set in.
Why bother writing when technology does much of the work for us? Templates plan for us, spell-check edits for us, and there’s enough information online to produce a ocean of plagiarized work. It’s no surprise that technical and business writing skills are becoming lost arts. Yet, successful communication with colleagues, teams, and clients relies heavily on written memos, emails, reports, proposals, and evaluations. Professional development , especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) should have a strong focus on technical writing skills, but rarely does.
Whether we like it or not, it is clear that gender equality in the tech world is still a dream, not a reality. When it comes to women in tech statistics, they show a drastic gender gap.
For instance, women hold only 24% of jobs in the tech field.
Nonetheless, the situation seems to be improving in the recent period. The likes of Indra Nooyi or Ginni Rometty are leading by example. These women can act like the lighthouses, which we all need to help us enter a better future.
So, how does the “bro culture” affect the position of women in the modern tech industry? To answer this question, we will need to dig deeper into the corporate world. Thus, let’s not waste any more time and start looking for clues and relevant information.
Is Moving up the Corporate Ladder in Heels Mission Impossible?
In the recent period, impactful campaigns, such as #MeToo, have once again drawn attention to the issue of gender inequality. More precisely, the position of women in modern society has been discussed and dissected.
Even so, the statistics on women in tech show that women hold only 20% of all job positions in the industry. Marginalization, in this case, is an understatement!
So, how can women overcome gender bias and climb the corporate ladder? Is 2020 the year to put an end to those patterns of behavior that discriminate against women and their accomplishments? Let’s find out.