It was a good week for women in tech recently, but a bad week at the same time. Eighteen women in the technology industry made The ‘Forbes Most Powerful Women List’ including Ursula Burns, Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Weili Dei and Amy Hood (the first female CFO of Microsoft, pictured here). It is great to see this kind of recognition especially when reports come out this week highlighting the lack of women as well as minorities in tech and the sexism that is occurring.
Sexism has gotten so bad that nine women in tech from companies including Adobe, BuzzFeed and KickStarter came together to write a manifesto. The women alleged that they have been groped at tech events, repeatedly mistaken for secretaries by men, pranked and criticized for their looks. “We are tired of pretending this stuff doesn’t happen and continue to keep having these experiences again and again,” the women write. “We keep our heads down working at our jobs, hoping that if we just work hard at what we do, maybe somehow the problem will go away.”
Though there are more women in the workforce overall, they make up only about 30 percent of the technology workforce, according to LinkedIn. One of my favorite new shows, “Silicon Valley” on HBO, though critically praised, has also been accused of having a woman problem i.e. there is only one recurring female character on the show (and the only one to not be bedded by one of the guys). But doesn’t the lack of women on the show actually make it a more accurate depiction of the real Silicon Valley, which is definitely male-dominated?
Code.org’s Hadi Partovi recently wrote a blog post titled “The real reason there aren’t more women in tech.” He listed three reasons:
- Computer science is not taught in US schools;
- As an elective, it doesn’t contribute to graduation requirement;
- The nerd stereotype is proven to drive away women.
Those are all true and we need to work on fixing those, but we also need to make it clear what computer science is, and all of the wonderful things it means, and careers it can lead to, like coding! We also need to show young women all the different roles technology plays in fashion, home design, web design, energy, health, and fitness. If we can put a spotlight on those areas, women can see how they are a fit for those jobs.
We just need to remind the world they we have great tech minds and we are here to stay.
This piece was written by Meredith Lepore and is reprinted by permission.