In 1978 Maria Klawe arrived at Toronto University in the hopes of pursuing a doctorate in computer science. Despite having never used a computer before she excelled in the male dominated industry and soon became a professor.
Today women are still greatly outnumbered in the tech industry, just one-fifth of technical roles are filled by women. It has been suggested that there is a confidence gap between men and women in all industries. It is so important for women to become involved in tech because when we create technology and tech products, we create for the masses. By having a male perspective consistently leading and developing tech, we’re building this through the lens of men and their perspective not the masses.
A recent study, ‘Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests’, shows that already, by the age of 6, girls are already less likely than boys to describe their own gender as ‘brilliant’, and less likely to join an activity labelled for ‘very, very smart’ kids. When a young girl believes she is less intelligent and capable than a boy, she is also less likely to pursue STEM subjects that are often perceived as ‘hard’ through school and beyond. This study is one of many that paint a worrying picture of generations of girls being affected by negative stereotyping.
So why is nothing being done about it?
Changing culture is hard. Every company has somewhat different attributes that make recruiting people and keeping people difficult. Apple don’t seem to be trying too hard, they hired their first VP of diversity and inclusion, and that person stayed for less than a year.
Are some companies succeeding in diversity?
Etsy convinced people who weren’t in software development jobs to be trained for technical roles, and they managed to get to almost 30 percent female in their engineering population relatively quickly. Accenture is doing extremely well and came in at roughly 40 percent female in their hires last year. So it’s not impossible, but companies need to try harder to ensure diversity.
Do you know any tech companies that are diversifying well?