It’s no secret that women have a lot on their plate. Between abortion rights coming under fire, to more and more young girls seeking asylum for protection against their abusive families, roughly half of the world’s population has so much to worry about.
When you get down to the nitty-gritty and look to the niche communities and subcultures within the overall population of women on this planet, you’ll find even more problems—more specific problems—that these groups have on top of the ones they already face. So what issues do women in the tech industry face? Well, for starters, a lot. Here are just a few:
How to Break Into the Male-Centric Tech Industry, and Stay There
Across the board (and world), men still lead in careers centered around science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Catalyst reported that when averaged across the regions surveyed, women make up less than 30% of the positions in science research and development in 2014, and even less in positions of power in the industry.
Balancing the Masculinity that Comes with a STEM Career and One’s Own Femininity
The information technology industry has been well established as a male-dominated workforce and because of this, many women in it feel, “…they need to put on a very assertive, almost aggressive mask to get ahead in a masculine dominated workplace,” blogger Mia Lockhart wrote. Finding an equilibrium between preserving their own femininity while still being taken seriously by their male coworkers has proven to be a bigger challenge for women in tech than first expected.
How to Inspire Next-Gen “Techettes”
“Children are our future,” is a phrase everyone has heard, and rightfully so. If we didn’t have a next generation to keep building upon what we have created and learned thus far, what was the point of it all?
Over the past few years, various organizations, campaigns and movements have been created in hopes of pushing younger girls to follow their passions for STEM subjects and turn them into careers. Whether it be the creation of coalitions like Girls Who Code, providing kids with “skills for success,” or age-old groups like the Girl Scouts pledging funds towards bringing girls into STEM, the women in the technology industry don’t want their work to stop with them. With one common goal for all: how can we inspire—and keep inspiring—the next generation of women in tech.
Dealing With the Hate, Toxicity and Antiquated Legacy Systems
One issue that has been decently chronicled is the toxic atmosphere that’s been perpetuated by the tech community, and Silicon Valley has been the heart of it. From drug-fueled sex parties, to good ‘ole (invite-only) boys clubs, it’s no wonder it’s so hard to find women in this field of work.
“Tech is shaping what the offices of the future will look like, what the jobs of the future will look like, what the relationships will look like. Currently only a tiny percentage of that is being shaped by women. We risk, 20 years down the line, creating a world that is even more patriarchal and masculine than it is now,” Zara Nanu, CEO of Gapsquare, told GQ.
Our Mentors and Our Teammates: Thank You to the Women Who Helped Us Get Where We Are
Having a mentor to help you navigate through life is an unmatchable relationship. Having someone who’s had the experiences you’re going through at work, before you’ve had them and can in turn help you through them? A Godsend.
“Finding a mentor can be an invaluable career asset for women—especially in industries not renowned for their gender diversity, like technology. As well as boosting confidence, mentors can help open up networks, set and achieve goals, and generally give a sense that someone is looking out for you,” writes Jessica Bateman for The Guardian.
As COO of Facebook and tech giant herself, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Clearly women deal with a lot. Some could say too much. And the women in the technology market are no different. If this post has only highlighted a few of the major issues the community is concerned with currently, it’s insane to imagine all the others that are out there. Keep reading to see what comes up.