It’s Time To Close The Gender Gap
Today is International Women’s Day and long before tech pioneers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates made their mark, there were people writing the first computer programming languages and working in technology. They were the first coders, they help humankind get to the moon, they worked hard to figure out the mathematics that tell machines to make calculations; they envisioned the future of what we now call computers … Many of those people were women.
They are the unsung heroes of computer science and technology history, the ones whose thinking and innovation paved the way for computers and technology as we know it today.
But not everything stays the same and based on the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap Report, progress toward gender equality decline last year for the first time in ten years. Since 2006, when the annual employment study was launched, the percentage of women working in most industries shifted “into reverse” but the decline was particularly steep for women in software and technology industries.
There is a clear gender gap in technology so I set myself the task of visualising that gap. To my surprise, it is bigger than I would have expected.
There is a misconception that job opportunities for women in technology exist only for those with coding or engineering experience. Technology firms do need women with these skills, that’s a fact, but they also need women with expertise in other areas, like design, marketing and finance.
Having more women in non-technical roles can drive female engagement company-wide and to address this gender imbalance, it is important that organizations create environments that encourage diversity at all levels.
The PwC Women in Tech Report shows that only 3% of women say a career in technology is their first choice and only 5% of leadership positions in tech sector are held by women. The report also shows a lack of female role models is also reinforcing the perception that a technology career isn’t for them.
Only 22% of students can name a famous female working in technology. Whereas two thirds can name a famous man working in technology.
of students can’t name a famous female working in technology
of females have had a career in technology suggested to them (33% of males)
of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women
In December 2017, Jessica Bateman wrote in The Guardian Careers that closing the gender gap starts in childhood. From toys to language, teaching girls basic skills and busting gender myths from an early age could encourage more women into tech careers. There is overwhelming evidence that our early years are crucial in shaping how we see the world and our place in it. From as early as 10 or 11, children already have strong ideas about their gender roles.
There is a great book my wife and I bought to our son called “Good night stories for rebel girls” which tells 100 stories and portraits of great women that changed the course of history in many ways. It is aimed to inspire girls to dream bigger and aim higher, but at the same time, it helps men understand and appreciate how important is the role of women in our society and how much they have achieved over the years.
For us, at home, teaching our eight-year-old son the importance of equality, opportunities and diversity helps us all closing the gender gap not only in technology, but in every industry.
Closing the gap starts at an early age, closing the gap starts with respect, closing the gap involves all of us …