Being a woman in tech, men will outnumber you at most occasion, and the big question is why are there so few women in tech? I attended Geek´n Rolla on April 21, where there was a panel discussion on the matter, and it really engaged the audience.
Some of the reasons mentioned for the lack of women were:
- Women that work in the tech industry identify themselves with their niche, ex. working with PR instead of working in tech with PR.
- It starts in the early stage of girls education, they are not encouraged to work within tech.
- Startups are driven by developers, and since there are so few female developers, it affects the imbalance.
- Women choose family over 70 hour work weeks.
- Women are not risk willing.
- Women do not have flair for tech.
Apart from physical abilities, we are capable of the same, so do we find the answers within society, culture, education and social (unconscious) behavior?
The tech industry reflects society, also in this matter. Besides tech, it is also within management, the percentage of board members, the level of wages etc. Some countries have implemented gender quotes to focus on equality, while most countries are just talking about the challenge. As some guys stated - is positive discrimination the way to create balance? Shouldn´t the criteria be a persons skills rather than gender, race, age or appearance? And why do we necessarily want more women in tech. These opinions helped warm up the following discussion.
The word, “balance” indicates an optimal state, and don´t we want to achieve that in our industry? It is not just a matter of equality for women in tech, it is equality in every sense, and the loss of innovation based on multiplicity. Balance also improves a working environment, and a manifold perspective is important in the work we create. Some research even states that having female leaders positively affects the financial results in a company.
But are there any upside to the lack of equality? Well for one you are not lightly to be caught wearing the same dress, but besides that if you are good (and of course you are) and have the ability to present your project, you will have the benefit of standing out. But in my opinion the upside for the individual does not equal the downside for the industry, so we still have to rely on change.
In Denmark we experience that women are becoming the majority on higher educations, they are focused on their studies and take equality for granted. Based on that development I am optimistic about a future balance. But until we reach the point where it is an absolutely matter of course meeting a female CEO, board chairman or President, we must start with our own self-image and stand out as role models for the future generation.