Published on October 9th, 2012 | by CHRIS0
The Paradox of Women in Tech: Part Two
Last time, in The Paradox of Women in Tech: Part One, we looked at the state of women in tech and, in particular, the fact that many women leave their jobs mid-career despite liking technology. There are more pieces to this puzzle; let’s see if we can put them together.
Let’s look at what ladies are actually interested in at a young age. Generation STEM (science, technology, engineering, and/or math) reports 32% of girls ages 13-17 think computing is a good prospective major. In high school, the interest in STEM becomes strong: 74% of girls admit to liking science, tech, engineering, or math.
University is where the interest in tech gets lost in translation. Studies reveal that ladies make up 58% of arts majors and only 20% of STEM majors. After high school and college, women who work in STEM fields earn 33% more than women in jobs unrelated to science, technology, engineering, or math. Even though many ladies are interested in STEM and the interest would pay well, many women keep the field out of their plans for the future.
Jill Denner found girls are the most likely to pursue an interest in technology when they have two things. The first is the ability to see value in technical curiosity, which is affected by peers, teachers, and parents. Unsurprisingly, most girls that pursue STEM careers know women in STEM careers.
The other must-have? An expectation of success.
Generation STEM shows that girls have reason to assume they’ll be successful: they are just as strong or better than boys at math overall. But when girls become aware of the stereotype that they are not as good at math, they perform a lot worse. Girls are more likely to quit math when they encounter challenges, which also suggests negative conditioning.
Girls are not the only ones that are underestimated. When addressing the familiar conundrum of the lack of women in the tech workplace, Simon Sharwood argues that women don’t apply to tech jobs when they don’t fit all of the requirements. According to the NCWIT, one in four ladies in tech say that women are seen as “intrinsically less capable than men in their companies.” In a nutshell, many confident ladies work in environments that subtly and not-so-subtly suggest they are not adequately skilled.
Many industry leaders acknowledge this is a major problem. What to do?
Next time we’ll look at some possible solutions to the obstacles girls and women encounter in tech. Stay tuned!
Yours in tech,