In a world where we are in the full swing of the gender equality and women are more empowered than ever before, we still have a big difference in the tech industry.
Despite the fact that the first person considered to be a programmer was a woman (Ada Lovelace 1815 – 1852), the tech industries has lack diversity. According to Harvard Business Review, 50 percent of women with careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) fields, will eventually leave their jobs due hostile work environments.
It is not a problem of discrimination or sexism, in fact it is about isolation. Women feel that their coworkers don´t appreciate their opinion or tend to underestimate their ideas. Women feel that they are cast aside when they decide to get pregnant and don’t feel secure in the workplace after returning from leave.
It creates insecurity about their performance as well their decision to create businesses of their own. According to PitchBook, Male VCs invest in male led startups for this reason. Just 8.3 percent of venture capital-funded U.S. tech startups founded in 2014 were led by women CEOs.
But where did all that came from? Some people try to support a theory that says it is because women prefer an Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences career. The truth is so far away from that. In middle school, 74 percent of girls expressed interest in STEM subjects, but then, in college, just 0.4 percent of high school girls select computer science, according to Girls Who Code. So what happens in college that causes this change? It is all about perception. We, as a society, need to change the perception of science and math as a masculine fields. We should motivate girls from the beginning to be engineers or whatever they want. This will help them to feel more confident when they have to choose a career.
Having more female engineers can also help tech industries. Kriti Sharma, director of Bots and AI says: “Artificial Intelligence learns like babies: it picks up data and knowledge from the world around it. So if that world is all male, it’s going to have a very limited sphere of knowledge indeed…There would be more of a gender mix in AI voices – dutiful personal assistants wouldn’t be largely female (Siri at launch, Cortana, Alexa) and advanced humanoid robots wouldn’t be mostly male (SoftBank’s robot companion NAO and, going more retro, R2D2 and Hal 9000)”.
Also personalities in this world are doing things differently. One of them is Rebecca Parsons, CTO of ThoughtWorks with more than 20 years of experience in the field. She shares her perspective of the role of women in tech changes over the past years: