Challenges of Being a Woman in Technology
Think fast: what was your favourite childhood toy? It is likely that, if you are a woman, the answer was a doll or a barbie house. If you are a man, you possibly answered the question remembering video games or computers. This division, considered natural by many, reflects historically constructed gender stereotypes. Boys and girls internalize traditional gender roles at a very young age.
Girls are frequently told that they can’t do certain things that guys do. When they have to decide on a career path, many are discouraged to get into the tech field, either by their family or friends. They can also feel unmotivated because they feel underrepresented facing a predominantly male classroom or when they start looking for a job and face many male-dominated workplaces.
The lack of female representation is one of the biggest challenges for women in technology. According to a report published by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, women compose only 23% of the digital labour force in Canada, about half the rate of all other occupations. Although the presence of women in technology has grown in the last years, there are still many challenges to be faced by them and an egalitarian scenario still seems distant.
In addition to representativeness, we have the challenge of breaking the historically constructed gender stereotype that tends to say that women are not able to work with technology. When we talk about women in technology we need to emphasize the importance of the female presence in the construction of the digital economy. It is important to point out that diverse teams generate more diverse and effective solutions, which have the potential to provide much more profitability for the business. Therefore, encouraging the performance of women in technology is beneficial to everyone involved.
Women are not discouraged from having careers in technology because of a lack of interest, but because of an unsupportive culture. Thankfully, we have amazing organizations like iWist, Women in Leadership and Women Equity Lab that help to empower and support women. A good starting point to get women into tech is creating a supportive culture in homes, schools, and the workplace.