How to fix the gender gap in technology

Article How to Fix the Gender Gap in Tech by Clara Marie Schroeder drew attention to the problem of women's non-participation in technology. I thought that this is even more relevant for the CIS countries.

How to Fix the Gender Gap in Tech

We are well aware of the existence of a gender gap in technology. Despite the efforts of initiatives such as Code Ed, Code Now and Microsoft's Digigirlz, by 2025 the proportion of women in this area is expected to decrease from 24% to 22% .

For comparison, in 1995 this figure was significantly higher - 37%. This tells us that it is not enough just to inspire girls to learn programming, we need to talk more about what prevents them from building a career in this field.

To talk about gender inequality in technology, it is necessary to take into account the cultural and social attitudes that preserve this problem. From an early age, girls are less likely to deal with technology than boys. Girls play with dolls, boys play with cars and robots. At first glance, there is nothing of the kind in it, but it forms paradigms that affect their future life.

A study in elementary schools showed that when children are asked to draw a scientist, most of them draw a white middle-aged man in a white coat. Perhaps already at this age, children believe that boys are more prone to scientific subjects than girls. Such stereotypes later lead to significant consequences. Professor at the University of British Columbia Tony Schmeiderasserts that "stereotypes play an important role in how children define the limits of their abilities." According to a study by the Los Angeles Times, the more girls believed in similar gender stereotypes, the less they were confident in their abilities. As Marian Wright Edelman, children's rights advocate, put it, “You cannot become what you don't know.”

By adolescence, many computer science begins to be associated with male geeks. Pop culture only reinforces this stereotype. From comics and video games to success stories of various CEOs, everything related to technology applies to men. As a result, we have the fact that women represent only 27% of students who take the final test in computer science. In 2016eight states had less than ten participants in this test.

This trend continues in colleges, where the percentage of women among graduates in specialties STIM is 35% . In computer science, this figure is even lower. Unfortunately, the small number of women who are building a career in technology despite all the obstacles often face the fact that the current culture in technology corporations does not allow them to succeed in their work.

This problem does not have a quick solution, but awareness of the cultural and social roots of the problem is already the beginning. The solution begins with an elementary access to a computer and ends with an improvement in the corporate culture in companies, and this requires the joint efforts of parents, politicians and enterprises. Parents can take care that girls deal with technology from an early age. Politicians could ensure that children’s schools also show female role models in technology - whether they are teachers or historical figures. The success of such films as "Hidden Figures" shows the relevance of stories of similar subjects. Finally, technology companies can support their women by encouraging mentoring, professional relationships and a more inclusive work culture. These efforts will bear fruit over time. To remain competitive in an economy that requires brains, we need to develop the potential of each individual child, regardless of whether it is a girl or a boy. We can not afford to ignore half of the population.

Also popular now: