So many tech companies have a similar layout: the CEO is usually male, the Software Engineer is usually male, the HR rep is usually female, the Media Coordinator is usually female (see ABT, Afterburner, Aver, Blick UX -one of the CEOs is female- or any of the other “Teams” on Forbes list of Best Small Companies). This is the model that has been built out of the companies that run our consumer lives today. Women started studying hard science/physics in the early 1900s, but they excelled only in times of emergency like WWII. However, the over-arching stereotype of what an intelligent scientist should look like (Einstein, etc) neglected women just based on their gender. Because of their reproductive systems, they were thought to not take their work as seriously as men. The women who stood out from the typical housewife were excluded because people expected them to eventually become a mother/home-keeper. When they were allowed into the field, women were placed in roles below their expertise or were swept under the rug for their male superiors/counterparts. The system wasn’t built to be fair for female intellectuals.
Amlta Goyal* showed that there is a move toward women in computer science fields, but she also points out that though the overall numbers are equaling out, the positions and pay-grades of women in tech are still beneath their male peers. “Women make up only 18% of the IS workforce and that only seven out of 100 of the nation’s top IS executives are women” (Goyal, 36). We’re allowed onto the “Team,” but we’re not encouraged or rewarded with top positions at the companies. Women settle for roles that are beneath their overall knowledge or pay less than men because tech is a fulfilling environment for them. Just being there is enough. But it shouldn’t be enough just to have women in the workplace. I will be happy when gender quota isn’t met by putting women in “nurturing”/people-friendly positions; instead, they should be working alongside and above men in positions of technological power within this digital age.
I am constantly worried about how I could use my skills in an industrial world. My plan is to be a software developer in tech. And since I’ve agreed to work with a tech company next year, how do I push into a software team when most small companies don’t have women in those positions? How do I show them I’m good enough when my gender works against me?
*Goyal, Amlta. “Women in computing: historical roles, the perpetual glass ceiling, and current opportunities.” Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE 18.3 (1996): 36-42.
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The whole workplace idea made me think a lot about the medical field, because it underwent a MAJOR overhaul in the last 40 years. Med school attendance went from 10% to 50% women! But still you see women getting pushed into obstetricians, gynecologists, and pediatricians because of course women=childcare!