Gender Intimidation: Technology Professionals

Karlyrose Acosta

September 27, 2020

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Getting your foot in the door in the technology field, especially for a woman, can be a difficult task. However, intimidation from male peers can act as deterrents for women seeking internships in the hopes of gaining the needed experience to aid them in their search for a tech job. Although women are making strides by pursuing engineering degrees and obtaining high positions, their journey to the top is consistently uphill. With women taking interest in the field of technology, their challenges begin before they get hired for a job or even an internship. Gender intimidation discourages qualified women from pursuing certain positions, preventing the creation of more equal and comfortable environments for males and females.

Before many women can obtain an entry level job, or a job that they are qualified for in technology, it has been proven that they experience intimidation during the internship process. In an article by called, "For Young Female Coders, Internship Interviews Can Be Toxic," Mei'lani Eyre gave her account of a phone interview she had with a tech company in which the male interviewer "barked at her to stop talking and just code." Although Mei'lani had previous experience interning with and Microsoft, she described the male itnerviewer as having a ‘tech bro' persona. A tech bro is defined as a male who works in the tech industry and often excludes their female counterparts. Mei'lani declined the internship offer as she questioned, "If this is how you're going to talk to me during the interview, how are you going to talk to me when I work there?" Even more striking is the fact that the interview did not take place in person, and the intimidation discouraged her from accepting the internship.

The intimidation does not stop with the demeanor in which male interviewers speak to women. The contents of their interviews can become inappropriate and irrelevant to the position itself. In the same article by, Girls Who Code conducted a study involving 1,000 female participants hailing from 300 colleges all across the U.S. to understand what they experience as they make their way into the technology field. Many women reported instances of sexual harassment: "flirted with me during the interview," "sent an unsolicited photo of himself," "asked if I had a significant other," and other sexual remarks." Of course, there is never an appropriate time to make sexual advances or inquire about related personal subjects in any job. In addition to this, many women experience being dismissed by their male peers, and are made to feel that their aspirations in tech are laughable and unattainable. This sad truth shows that there is still considerable work to be done when it comes to educating male employees and ensuring that females are being treated fairly in the workplace.

How can we expect women to pursue careers in STEM when discrimination and intimidation meets them before they can really get any relevant experience? Education and training is desperately needed to provide males and females with the expectations companies have if they wish to create a more equal and inclusive workplace. No woman should feel that she is unwelcome in her field, especially if she is more than qualified. In addition, no woman should ever have to endure inappropriate questioning and unwanted advances by their male interviewers, as they are irrelevant and unacceptable in the interview process, and in the workplace completely.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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