It is no news that there is a lack of adequate female representation in the technological sector. The reason for this under-representation can be traced to a number of factors, ranging from the lack interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers to stereotypes that are found in the technology sector. The need to bridge the barrier and the male to female ratio in this sector has led to the development of a number of groups. These groups have different modes of operation, but they are all focused on one thing; teaching women how to be efficient when it comes to technology.
One such group here in Czech Republic is an organization called Czechitas. This group teaches girls and women how to code, work with graphic programs and they are trying to open doors to the technical disciplines for women. It is safe to assume that the realization of the fact that the feminine gender is not well represented in the technology sector necessitated the birth of this group. Czechitas has very similar goals to Rails Girls. Rails Girls is probably a better known group outside the Czech market, because they have different branches, from Helsinki to London and Vienna. They also hold summer schools from time to time for females who want to learn how to code. (Czechitas are also hold the summer schools.) The aim of this group is, in their words, “to give tools and a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas.” Other groups that aid women in achieving this are Girls Who Code, PyLadies, Girl Develop It, and Girls in Tech, to name a few.
“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
– Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx
Why do we need more women in technology, why should groups such as Czechitas or any group like them be supported and how is it ensured they work in teams?
Some reasons given as to why women are a minority in the technology sector are their teenage experience with STEM related fields, along with the perception that the sector is not interesting. A third reason surfaces out of the research conducted by the American Sociological Review, which found that employers prefer to recruit people culturally similar to themselves. So in line with the last point, because males dominate the sector, it is easy to see why there is a form of favouritism when it comes to the issue of employment. Some females grew up with the impression that anything technology related would be boring and difficult. The first thing to do to change this mind set is to show them that the idea of fun is not limited to the arts, and that other fields can be more interesting.
We need more women in technology because of the innovative direction they give to issues. A team of women working on an issue will most likely explore diverse options to the challenge at hand. A woman’s approach to problems will differ from that of a male counterpart and this can be exploited to the benefit of the technology sector.
Furthermore, research conducted by the University of Castilla la Mancha in Spain discovered that having as many females as males in the Research and Development team of any organisation would lead to greater creativity and a better decision making process. The idea that women cannot be of help in a field dominated by men is a stereotype that needs to go.
More women in technology will open the way for more women to pursue careers in technology. There is a myth surrounding the technology sector that only the males are the rightful heirs of that kingdom. With more women getting into the sector, this notion will be demystified, thereby paving way for more women to pursue careers in technology. So in essence, we need more women in technology to help motivate young girls who want to pursue careers in this sector.
Behavioural economics has shown that women are capable of making better financial decisions than men. A woman at the helm of affairs of a tech company would most likely double the earnings of such company and bring in more profit. So wouldn’t you rather encourage women to fill up those vacant spaces in the sector?
More women in technology would also help serve as mentors to females who are in need of people to look up to. Like other fields where we have a host of women who have blazed the trail and whose stories can help motivate others, this is also evident with women in technology. Some notable women who have made a name for themselves are Ginni Rometty is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IBM; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube; Michelle Zatlyn, Co-founder of CloudFlare; Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx; Elaine Coughlan, the Co-founder and Partner, Atlantic Bridge Capital; Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard; and Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, though this list could go on and on. All these women can serve as role models to motivate young girls to pursue careers in technology.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ”
– Mahatma Gandhi
To get more women in tech, groups like Czechitas must be supported because they are aimed at getting more women into the sector. Another thing that should be done is to change the mind set of females about the nature of STEM courses. Instead of the boring and complicated notion they hold, there should be a change in narrative by informing them that creativity is the highest form of entertainment. With technology comes the need to make, create and innovate. Our government also should stop preparing endless plans and finally start doing something. Technology is evolving and our Ministry of Education should try to keep the pace with this evolution. Groups like Czechitas, Rails Girls, Girls Who Code etc. can be supported by donations, cooperation with them or volunteering.
The need to encourage women to work in a team has been highlighted above, and the putting together of heads can help solve very complex problems. No organization ever peaked without having teams in place. So imagine having a team of level-headed professional and financially prudent women in the technology sector. Imagine the different possibilities that one could explore.
The technology sector is wide, made of diverse fields that can accommodate a lot of people. In Czech Republic we already need tens of thousands employees more in the field of technology than we did a year ago, and this is the same situation everywhere around the Globe. The number of women recruited to the technology industry has been falling over the past 10 years. Based on Eurostat in Czech Republic, we have 7,60 % women working in the IT field in 2014. But in 2005, we had 19,06 % women working in the IT field. The number is dropping every year!
This data shows why it is important to train women in other to bridge the gap in this sector. The number of available spaces in the future means there is need for more women. No organization or country can pass up the prospect of making huge returns on the sector, so there is a need to get more hands on deck.
In conclusion, this piece has shown why more women are needed in technology, and how they can be an asset to the sector.
I know, that the world is not ideal and probably never will be, but this doesn’t mean that I will stop trying to make it better and make it ideal for everybody.
And I never stop, because that’s what it takes to accomplish goals.