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Women in the Tech World

by Sheba Karamat - 15th September 2015

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Women in the Tech World

“At Google, women make up 30 percent of the company's overall workforce but hold only 17 percent of the company’s tech jobs. At Facebook, 15 percent of tech roles are staffed by women. At Twitter, it’s a 10 percent. “

Source: a research article posted on the Huffington Post.

People like Moya Greene (CEO of Royal Mail), Alison Cooper (boss of Imperial Tobacco), Carolyn McCall (leader of EasyJet), are names that have done the UK proud when it comes to women holding positions of power in the business world, but can you think of any from the tech world? The situation as a whole remains abysmal in this regard. According to research conducted by Institute of Engineering and Sciences 2012-2014,

  • 56% of university students in UK are females, out of which only 15.8% consider careers in engineering and technology.
  • 47% of the workforce in the UK is represented by women, out of which only 13% consider tech jobs, which means 7 in every 8 technical jobs are held by men.

Despite numerous movements round the globe to remedy the situation, women are still under-represented when it comes to technical roles. The following points are important to consider in order to address the lack of female representation. 

The Early Environment

Researchers believe the influences that build the personality of a child, shape his/her ideas and beliefs towards life, and help incorporate them in the child’s future career choices, come from immediate families and schooling. A common norm suggests that from early schooling, males are typically associated with maths while females are more likely to choose seemingly ‘convenient’ subjects including art, music, and health. We should discourage stereotypical association of technical roles with males and provide equal opportunities to girls to excel in maths and science.

There are a number of women, who are out there doing a great job of encouraging our young girls in to the tech sector. For example, Anne-Marie Imafidon heads up the Stemettes project, which is designed to get girls into science, tech and engineering and maths. Anne-Marie states" show the creativity and altruism - they'll come running". Dr Sue Black, founder of BCSWomen, an organisation she founded to help woman in computer science, states  "help women to see how exciting tech is, and what massive opportunities there are with even basic knowledge".

Its Time to Drop the Old Stereotypes

A male dominated industry’ is how people often refer to the tech sector, which is also true according to the stats. This in itself stigmatises women opting for careers in tech. Women who do join, leave due to feeling isolated when it comes to social interactions, which is why a higher turnover ratio is reported by women in technical roles. Moreover, women find it uncomfortable working in jobs that are technically challenging, with low satisfaction levels and requiring long work hours, making it impossible to achieve a healthy work-life balance. We need to provide equal opportunities, suitable working environments and provide sense of security on the job.

Significance of Role Models

These could be our parents, teachers, extended family, etc. From an early stage, women lack information regarding alternative career choices, detailed career pathways, and advancement options. The often cried-over dilemma stems from lack of honest and encouraging direction from superiors and mentors. Among companies at the forefront of trying to change this is Cisco, which runs popular women's networks and mentoring schemes.

There are also a growing number of techno camps, such as TechFuture Girls, which are schemes encouraging girls to attend extra-curricular computing classes. The materials are developed in close collaboration with employers and teach universally applicable skills like coding, cyber security, data management and video editing but themed around girls' interests. Jacqui Ferguson, Senior Vice President for the UK and Ireland at HP Enterprise Services, said: “By investing in TechFuture Girls we’re helping to create a diverse, inclusive environment by engaging girls at the very age when they start to disengage from the subject of technology."

Women are no less talented than men, showing great intellectual prowess and displaying major achievements in the medical world in particular. If we want to change the statistics for the better in this regard in the coming years and encourage more women into taking up technical careers, we must begin now!

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