Technology, like many other fields in the workplace, is male-dominated. There is no specific field in technology women must choose to be successful, as they can find success in anything. However, many women find the technology intimidating and are not typically interested in this field. The societal expectations placed upon women to pursue certain interests and careers have deterred them from pursuing nontraditional careers. The problem lies in the lack of diversity that plagues the technology industry. If more women are encouraged to pursue careers in technology, the economic integrity of the job market would flourish, becoming more diverse and leveling the opportunity gap between men and women.
To learn more about why more women are needed in technology, it must first be understood why they are still the minority. According to Ana M. González Ramos, Núria Vergés Bosch and José Saturnino MartÃnez GarcÃa, authors of Women in the Technology Labour Market
, "The percentage of female students enrolled in engineering and technology degrees in the 2014-2015 academic year was 26.1%, which is considerably lower than the percentage of women in the fields of health (70.1%) and science (52.6%)" (75). This means that the shortage of women in the field of technology starts with their interests. Ramos, Bosch, and Garcia attest this lack of interest to "a technophobic image that portrays women as being against its use" (75). In various forms of media, women are depicted as being helpless when confronted with technology. This stereotype further discourages women from pursuing careers in technology.
In addition to the stereotypes that plague women, the infamous opportunity and wage gaps between men and women still exist. The field of technology continues to be dominated by males as it has proven to align more with their interests. With fewer women in technological workplace environments, women often lose out on opportunities to advance in certain positions, and earn adequate pay. For every dollar a man working in the United States makes, a woman makes an average of 81 cents. The ongoing struggle to end the gender wage gap has proved to be a deterrent for many women to pursue different careers, especially in technology.
So how do we get more women interested in technology and why is it beneficial for women to pursue careers in this field? It all starts in childhood. Young women need to know that their options are not limited to the traditional roles they have been taught to play. Women especially interested in STEM can explore the many options that the technology field has to offer. Even if a woman's interest is not in STEM, hearing testimonials from other women in the technology field who did not pursue majors in STEM would also be an encouraging way to see that technology is for everyone, from all different academic backgrounds and interests.
While there is still more room for women in technology, certain measures need to be taken to ensure that they can confidently pursue a career in this industry. Ileana Epsztajin, author of "Where are all the women in tech?" suggests things to remedy the absence of women in technology. First, she maintains that women be more self-reliant, meaning obtaining the necessary technical training needed for the careers they intend to pursue. According to the University of Pennsylvania, "women who had completed a basic computing course had four times more chances of finding work" (25). This means that even acquiring basic computer knowledge would get women on the right track to a fulfilling career in technology. Ileana also urges a change in our current professional culture if more room is going to be made for women in the technology field. Businesses need to ensure that women of all backgrounds will be safe from sexist behavior and intimidation, and that options for additional education will be made available to them. With protection and active reinforcement of advancing in technology, women will be more confident in pursuing these careers, ultimately creating a more diverse and equal field.
Though much progress has been made concerning women's rights and opportunities, there is still work to be done. The realms of STEM and technology are complex and cater to the interests of people from all backgrounds, and there is something for anyone who is interested. Women must be made to realize that they are capable of defying the norm and can pursue careers in unconventional but fulfilling areas such as technology. If more women sought to work in the field of technology, they would find themselves with rewarding careers, and as a result, the field of technology would be more diverse and harmonious and act as an example to other professions. Expanding the interests of women and creating more equal workplaces is the ultimate goal, and it can be done with the right education of all genders, and the willingness to actively make change.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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