As someone who is new to ProActive Technology, I have attend events like Tech After Five and various other networking events that have made it apparent that there is a severe lack of women in the technology field. Now, from my limited experience in the field this comes as a surprise. I was raised in a home where my mother designed and built the desktop computer that our family utilized for everyday needs from homework to downloading music. In middle school, as students we were required to take at least two years of computer classes where we learned the ins and outs of Microsoft Excel and how to get our typing rate up. (Although, I am pretty convinced that the reason I can type so fast is all due to the good old days of communication through AOL Instant Messenger.) In college I even took a computer science class with a few of my sorority sisters, admittedly at first it was to avoid having to take a more advanced math class, but we soon discovered the importance and relevance of what we were being taught and consistently recommended the course to others looking to broaden their skill set. It took until I left the protective walls my family’s home and of ProActive- where my four female co-workers have a strong presence, to realize the industry’s lack of X chromosomes.
My hypothesis for the reasoning behind this is perhaps the false perceptions that fall on the tech world. Though I believe it to be steadily changing, I think many view the technology world as one dominated by men working in their mother’s basement to design video game graphics and code. Let me tell you, this is not the case with my co-workers, I am quite sure they would rather be out riding their bikes absurdly long distances or playing with their puppies than spending any time in a basement staring at a computer screen. This stigma is ever changing as technology becomes more of a central focus to every business world-wide. I would also guess that women believe men are better equipped to join the tech field as they seem to embrace technology at a younger age through video and computer games. Perhaps the reason the technology field is so male dominated is because women don’t feel they stand a chance and therefore pursue other options.
After considering why I thought there was a smaller female presence in the field I decided to consult other sources, because although it may come as a shock, just because I think it, it doesn’t make it accurate. I found an interesting article that Forbes published a few months back titled, “Here’s the Real Reason There Are Not More Women in Technology.” A very interesting article, the author Mark Fidelman interviews female tech leaders about their beliefs on the subject. Essentially it was what I had originally posited, that women feel men are more equipped to be successful in the tech field, but also that they do not recognize the benefits both career wise and economically. Quite simply put women don’t pursue the tech field as much as men. Fidelman points out that this is potentially a problem as diversity nowadays seems to be one of the keys to success. He suggests that young girls need to see women being successful in the tech industry to develop an interest at a young age in order to continue on to make a career out of it.
Finding a way to increase female interest in the technology industry is definitely something that educational institutions should consider. As technology continues to dominate our everyday lives, it would be beneficial to maintain a diverse perspective throughout the industry, one that cannot be maintained in a male dominated field.