What are the Challenges for Women in Tech?

by Mar 3, 2020

The Challenges for Women in Tech are Extensive

Although many job sectors face a large gender gap, the challenges for women in tech are particularly noticeable.

The STEM fields, and more particularly, the tech industry have long been considered a male domain. 

In fact, statistics show that although 74% of female teenagers show an interest in the STEM subjects, only 19% will go on to achieve a qualification in these fields.

Why is there this disparity? Is it because these industries are too hard to break into? In this post, we’ll look at the main challenges for women in tech in an attempt to answer these questions. 

Early conditioning

Most girls are taught to be nurturers from an early age. Society tells us that girls should be “nice,” inclusive, and play a supportive role. For boys, things are different. Boys are meant to be brash and bold leaders.

This kind of early conditioning can lead women to feel less confident in their own abilities. Or, if not less confident, adopt a manner that makes them appear so.

Women might well be their own worst enemies here. They don’t want to rock the boat, so they don’t speak out as much. Unfortunately, this also means that they might not push as hard for promotions.  

Challenges for women in tech

Preconceptions

There’s a definite unconscious bias against women in tech. Men are seen as being better at logical and spatial tasks. These are skills that are prized in the tech world. Women, on the other hand, are seen as more emotional. It’s this unconscious bias that holds many women back.

Interestingly enough, this study shows that girls performed as well or better than their male counterparts in science in two out of three countries. It also found that a lot more girls demonstrated the ability to pursue a career in a STEM industry than previously thought. It’s just that these girls didn’t naturally make the transition.

You’d think that the countries with the highest gender equality would come out on top in this study, but you’d be wrong. 

The amount of STEM graduates was higher in countries where gender equality was poor. The researchers hypothesized that this may be because STEM careers gave women in these countries a better shot at financial freedom. 

If you want to encourage more women in your workplace, try our Unconscious Bias Training Workshops.

Workplace harassment

Workplace harassment is a big issue for women in tech. It’s as a result of being a minority group. Women face more sexual advances and incidences of inappropriate sexual innuendos. If the woman complains, she’s likely to be accused of being oversensitive or not wanting to be a team player.

Much of the sexual misconduct in the workplace is still written off as, “Boys will be boys.” Women may be afraid to speak out because they want to be seen as one of the boys.

To be fair, this is not solely related to the tech industry. Women in various other industries complain about the same issues. The difference with the tech industry is that women tend to be more isolated. Where there’s an average of only one in four employees being women, women are the distinct minority. 

Motherhood may also play a role

Attitudes towards working mothers are changing slowly, but you’d be surprised at the attitude toward women who are of child-bearing age. Often times when women apply for jobs that involve a lot of travel, employers are concerned that they would be trained and then decide to have children.

Now, you might think that this is an outdated way of thinking, but many employers today carry this same mentality.

Challenges for women in tech

Challenges for women in tech

Women in tech face a number of unfair, unconscious biases. Will this ever change? We believe so. With society focusing more on breaking gender barriers, this situation ought to improve. It should be noted that it’s not just men’s attitudes that need to change. Women also need to unlearn their preconditioned behaviors.

We’ll leave you with one final thought. The first computer programmer was Ada Lovelace, a woman born in 1815. While there were no computers as we know them today, a friend of Lovelace had an idea for what essentially is a calculator.

Lovelace saw the potential beyond mere numbers. She reasoned that a machine could process anything that could be noted logically. Why did Lovelace think so differently than her peers?

Lovelace’s upbringing was unconventional. She was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Lovelace’s mother wanted her to be different from her father, so she had her tutored in mathematics instead of poetry.

Imagine if all mothers raised their daughters in such an unconventional manner.

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Milica Kostić Contributor
Milica is a business enthusiast and content specialist who takes joy in writing about marketing, cybersecurity, tech, finance, health. Her publications can be seen all over the web: Eventbrite, Gulf News, 3Plus International, Host Review, CCM to name a few. Her knowledge came from many years of B2B communication-based roles with 4 years of guiding world-known brands toward award-winning customer experience initiatives. She is also an advocate for vegetarianism, environmentalism, animal, and human rights with a degree in Sociology.

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