We’ve all heard about the gender gap in the tech industry. For some reason, women don’t seem to be thriving in this field – which happens to be one of the most promising fields in the world. This is a booming industry. At this rate, there won’t be enough people in the field to cover all of the jobs. This is estimated to cost billions in opportunities and stunt the industry. We need women to fill these positions. So why is it that women don’t flock to the field? It’s actually much more complicated than many people might believe.
It’s a Cultural Problem
Above all else, the reason for a lack of women in the tech field is the result of a cultural problem. Software engineers have been stereotyped as hoodie-clad, mid-twenties guys who wear glasses. They are seen as anti-social nerds who eat pizza and live in their parent’s basement. Of course, this isn’t even close to the truth but that doesn’t stop the stereotype from repelling women from the field.
Shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and movies like ‘War Games’ create this stereotype. It’s no surprise that so many women are disinterested in this field.
There Are Not Many Role Models
The tech field is basically devoid of any female role models. This is another huge reason for the gender imbalance. Without being able to see the possibility of women being successful in this field, they will not be motivated to enter it.
“You cannot be what you cannot see.”
Have you ever heard of Megan Smith? Probably not, but she is one of the leading tech role-models today. The fact that you probably haven’t heard of her just solidifies my point. We need more role models in the field. But that won’t happen until we start raising awareness so the world stops stereotyping the average tech worker.
Poorly Designed Pipeline
At universities worldwide, very few women even make it past the entry-level computer classes. It’s not because the curriculum is wrong. It’s because of the cultural problems that stereotyping has caused. Women entering these classes are often met with a negative ambient belonging. From the first day, they’re in class, they are given the perception that men in the class are more knowledgeable than them. This can actually be traced back to the gaming industry.
Gaming is marketed primarily to men so those who enter these CS classes at university often have at least a decade of gaming experience. Gaming helps to develop computer skills. As a result, gamers are able to develop fundamental skills related to programming at a young age.
This issue is going to start going away due to the boom in the mobile gaming industry. We’re starting to see games that are targeted to women. They are now being targeted by certain gaming companies. As more women grow up playing these games, the will become more comfortable with coding.
The Bottom Line
While there are probably some industries that still discriminate against women, tech is not one of them. Women are not excluded from technology degrees. It’s actually quite the opposite. Universities are going out of their way not to discriminate.
The real problem is developed under layers of stereotyping that leads to disinterest in the field. It’s a choice. Women who decide on a tech career often thrive, but there just aren’t enough of them interested enough in the industry to meet its demands.
We’re starting to see a shift in the stereotypical computer nerd so I feel that over time, women will start to gain interest in the tech industry. It’s just a matter of these jobs being seen for what they truly are. The tech industry is not filled with nerdy men living in their parent’s basement, arguing over which Star Trek captain is the greatest of all time. It’s an industry that creates positive, life-improving changes to the entire world!