Why is the U.S. behind when it comes to Women in Tech?

Women in Technology

I agree with the reports that represent the US as one of the most progressive democratic nations in the world and its significant headway into championing for gender equality. However, the country still lags behind other progressive countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East relation to women and their input towards the development of its technology industry. The US technology industry has always been male dominated and as much as one would expect this to change given its advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality, I believe that the situation has yet to exhibit any signs of improvement.

The National Center for Women in Technology provides that in 2013, less than 20% of bachelor’s degree recipients for computer and information sciences courses were women. This represented a decline of nearly 20% in comparison to the female bachelor’s degree recipients in the same courses in the year 1985. The unfortunate fact about these statistics is that in other industrialized nations and in developing economies of the Middle East and Asia, the representation of women in the technologies industry has been on a progressive increase. For instance, I have come across credible news sources such as The Economist, which provide that in 2014, about a quarter of technology related start-ups in the Middle East were owned by women.

On the same note, I have read reports indicating that women in European universities tend to be better represented compared with those of the US. For example, in 2012, nearly 50% of university and college students in 17 countries in Europe were women studying courses related to mathematics, engineering, computer science, the sciences and manufacturing. More so, the European workforce the share of women working in technology intensive service and production industries stood at 25 % of the total technology oriented workforce according to data from 2008 to 2010. Unfortunately, for women working in similar industries in the US, less than 10% work in engineering related roles and about 26% of the workforce in the computer and information systems related fields.

Personally, I perceive this disparity as having more to do with the American culture as opposed to women lacking a show of interest in tech fields. In essence, the US technologies industry can be considered as a mature one. As much as women tend to show great interest in science and technologies related fields, their aptitude to take up these fields as careers has been waning over the last few years. The main reasons as to why they are rejecting these lucrative careers has according to the 2008 Center for Work-Life Policy report, been attributed to excessive job pressures and hostile work environments. According to the report, more than 50% of professionally qualified women working with SET organizations quit employment citing the need to commit to their families or opt for more pleasant working environments. As such, women with great technology and science credentials have exhibited a greater inclination towards dropping out of lucrative employment contracts in comparison to men working in the same industry.

I perceive that another issue negatively impacting the involvement of American women in the technology industry is that sexism and gender discrimination in technology industries is quite rife. Most women decry the fact that technology firms show little commitment to having women work within their organizations. I have heard of reports indicating that women employees in tech firms are looked over, pushed aside and even put down while their male peers continue to accord support to each other despite exhibiting shoddy performance and below average output levels.

The mass exodus of professionally trained women from the technology industry has to be stemmed to ensure that technology firms are able to conform to calls towards inclusion and diversity in the workplace. You will agree with me that diversity, inclusion is a very important factor towards innovation, and new product development in today’s globalized markets. I champion for the elimination of sexism within technology firms and the removal of barriers that limit women’s commitment to their families while working in these fields. As such, the American society should reassess its perception of women in the technologies industry. The technology industry should also strive towards giving women due credit for phenomenal scientific abilities exhibited by women. More so, technology oriented industries should offer women competitive economic incentives that mirror those of their male counterparts in an effort to retain more women as professional tech employees.

It is however important that I point out that gender discrimination is not only limited to the tech industry in the US. It is rather rampant all over the world. There is therefore the need for the US society to champion for a cultural shift towards greater gender equality to stem this issue.

The Book Foundation



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