November 21, 2019

Why Women Don’t Go into Tech Fields

There are signs that things are getting better everywhere in terms of gender equality, and have been doing so for a long time. Yet many feel that things have slowed and that there are still plenty of barriers that prevent both men and women from achieving full equality. If you are one of those people… sorry. Equal opportunity is there for most men and woman in 1st world countries. However, one of the major areas of interest is that the world of tech still seems to be struggling to attract women. What everyone wants to know is; why? Are women naturally less inclined to be interested in tech or adept at the skills required? Or are they discouraged from aspiring to positions in tech, either from a young age or once they enter the workplace?

To look at some statistics, in 2017 only 20% of Google engineers were women, and the same is true across many other big tech companies. Fewer girls at school choose to study tech-focused subjects too. However, it’s interesting to note that the gender balance of girls and women in tech is different in different countries. In India and Malaysia, for example, the gender balance is much closer to being representative of the actual population. In fact, fewer women in the west engage in computer science now compared to the ’80s, although other STEM subjects such as medicine have seen an increase in women.

Technology is a great ally of female life which by definition is multitasking but only 19% of technology managers are women and only 9% of smartphone application developers are women. In Europe, only 3% of girls graduate in computer science and for what concerns the use of the Internet, in Italy the gap is greater than in the rest of Europe because in Italy the percentage of those who have never used the network is 36% for women and 26.9% for men , almost 10 points behind, while in Europe the gap is only 3%.

A study conducted in some upper secondary schools in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom showed a substantial initial parity of attitudes and interest in information technology among boys and girls, where 90% of young women in school age is said to be interested in ICT and until the age of 9 there seems to be no big difference between boys and girls in grades obtained in mathematics and science.

But it is absolutely necessary to understand what happens next, when the number of girls who choose to continue their studies in the technology sector is not high and most of them do not intend to start a career in technology and it is no coincidence that even the tests Invalsi highlight this trend, with female students who consistently exceed students in literary tests while the opposite is true for mathematics, with a trend that then leads to the gap between graduates and graduates in scientific disciplines.

So fewer women in tech fields could be down to stereotyping and discouragement that puts off women and girls right? Wrong.
It has been found that most women don’t work the same hours as men, 37 hours to a man’s 41 hours per week. Most woman also want to have children and families so all of this poses some questions to a woman.

  1. “If I want to run a successful household and give my family the love I want to give them, then I can’t be working 41 hours a week whilst my husband is also working those hours. My children will be brought up by a nanny.”
  2. “Do I want to be the breadwinner?” We can all see the challenge here. With great power comes great…. Stress. Yes, so now you have to be mom AND the breadwinner in the house. This is not looking too good.
  3. If I take maternity leave, will I be behind? The answer to this is Yes! Technology and development is such a fast paced environment that it would be difficult to get back into it.
  4. “Girls just wanna have fun” – Tech fields are boring, now, if you’re the guy/girl I’m insulting right now, then I can honestly say that you have different wiring to most other people. Woman, generally, don’t mind boring jobs, but they enjoy making friends at work and communicating to other human beings. Most developers like being left the hell alone and sitting in a dark corner somewhere with a darth vader mug and a samurai sword hanging on the wall behind them. Now this is obviously a generalization, but mostly true. The different is something to the effect of this, most people would go to the shop to buy lottery tickets and have a chat with the cashier, a developer will buy lottery tickets online just to NOT talk to someone.

Maybe we should stop thinking that every group has to match certain demographics and start thinking that people should do what they want to do and we should help them succeed in that.