The technology industry has long been thought of as male dominated despite the valuable contribution of many women throughout history. Even in the modern era of vocal endorsements for female equality, women remain largely absent from this thriving industry. The reason for the disparity is widely debated but many argue that the working environment discourages women from taking part.
A quick Google search of “Women in technology” lends itself to many articles and blogs on the subject. Like myself, many find it interesting that a field can be dominated by one gender. Especially in this day and age, gender domination in a field seems a thing of the past. In her blog article, "Women in Tech: What's the Real Status?" Laura Garnett highlights some surprising facts about gender in the tech industry. She states that “...while women make up 59% of the total workforce, they are averaging only 30% of the workforce across major tech companies” (Garnett, 2016). Unfortunately, even large successful companies are lacking diversity in their tech workforce. To further highlight this disparity, Garnett explains that “...women hold only 17 percent of the tech jobs at Google, 15 percent at Facebook, and 10 percent at Twitter” (Garnett, 2016
). This statistic is alarming as many of these organizations are labeled as the most desirable places to work, yet there is such a small presence of female contributions in tech.
It remains a question why women aren’t more interested in such a lucrative career path? Some speculate that women are driven away from male dominated industries such as the tech industry because of sexual harassment or unfavorable work conditions. In the era of the #Me Too movement, many women have vocalized their negative experiences in the workplace. A fairly recent example that made headlines came from a blog article written by Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber. Her detailed account listed many uncomfortable interactions with a manager at Uber who behaved inappropriately by making sexual advances early on in her employment. Even more concerning was her interactions with the HR department that appeared unwilling to take her complaints seriously. Instead, Fowler was encouraged to ignore the bad behavior that was rampant throughout the organization. Beyond that, Fowler described many obstacles she encountered as being one of the only females in her department. Ultimately, she decided to leave a culture where she was undervalued and found little opportunity to advance as she never felt respected or treated as an equal to her male peers. Fowler’s blog received a great deal of attention but sadly for her, it wasn’t until after she’d left that her voice was finally heard. Unfortunately, like many who come forward, she also received criticism and came under fire for her account at Uber.
Unfortunately, we may never know exactly why more women aren’t participating in the tech industry. However, it is important that we listen to those who have had experience as they are likely to have some valuable insights. Furthermore, leadership in the tech industry should bear some responsibility for initiating change to eliminate practices of discrimination and sexual harassment. Hopefully we can learn from our past mistakes and offer greater opportunities and incentives for women to take part in the tech industry as we need more female talent in such a historically male dominated industry.
Garnett, L. (2016, March 21). Women in Tech: What's the Real Status? Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/laura-garnett/women-in-tech-what-s-the-status.html
Vigo, J. (2019, March 11). Women In Tech: Inconvenient Truths And Changing Perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/julianvigo/2019/02/23/women-in-tech/#18364cbd45d7
Susan Fowler. (2017, February 19). Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber. Retrieved from https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2017/2/19/reflecting-on-one-very-strange-year-at-uber