Amidst the controversy surrounding the tech giant, Elon Musk, Robyn Denholm was named the new chair of Tesla in November of 2018. As great of an accomplishment that is, it barely made a blip in the news, much less in the minds and mouths of the public.
With the rise in digitization, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and now the exploration of Mars for water, the overall progress our world as a whole has made in the realms of science and technology has been immeasurable. And yet we have still to see the advancement of the women who are behind these trends, inventions and our general need to know more.
If you picked a stranger off the street, this person would easily be able to tell you that Steve Wozniak is the co-founder of Apple and Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon, among many other male leaders in the tech industry. Ask them to name an influential woman in a STEM role and they’d be hard-pressed to come up with one.
Whether it’s the legacy system of yesteryear that doesn’t push girls toward STEM fields the same way it does to boys, or it’s the toxic environment that women often find themselves in once they break into the tech industry, it’s time to rethink how some of the greatest minds alive currently are being treated.
“I have found that being a woman in tech makes me stand out, and sometimes not for the right reasons. I think it can be easy for unconscious biases to take hold, and it’s both genders’ responsibility to make sure we evaluate everyone on the merit of their contributions,” Nancy Wang, the first female product manager at Google and now the head product manager of the tech startup, Rubrik, told Silicon Republic. Alongside these accomplishments, Wang founded the non-profit, Advancing Women in Product, as a way to advocate for a more diverse ecosystem within the tech community.
This isn’t the first organization of its kind, as more and more like-minded groups have popped up in recent years to help combat the assortment of roadblocks women often face when trying to break into this industry. Consortiums like Girls Who Code have created numerous resources for women of all ages in order to enable them with the skills and mindset they need to work in a STEM position, or just an outlet that will help them explore an interest or hobby. Not only do they have a membership base of nearly 90,000, the non-profit is also partnered with major (and diverse) corporations like Adobe, IBM and Kate Spade.
So, if the groups, the resources and the support are there, why do women still receive so much pushback? The gender gap that has emerged within the tech industry is astounding—almost too large to believe—and many are pushing for a greater diversification of the trade.
Obviously, there isn’t one right answer to this issue, and we most likely won’t see any major improvements to this epidemic in the near future. Looking back to the start of the technology boom, it’s impressive and inspiring to see the strides that women have made and the accomplishments they’ve achieved, whether they received recognition or not. Comparing the start place to now is consoling—but the fight isn’t over yet. Women have come a long way in the technology sphere, but the progress made still shows that there is an equally long, if not longer, journey ahead.