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BLOG: Technology is sexist

Jonny Evans | Nov. 1, 2013
The number of women working in technology is far below the percentage in the workforce at large, and enrollment numbers suggest that improvement isn't imminent.

Strike one
Women's technology success stories are insufficiently reported by the media and within education. In more general terms, just 3% of U.S. educational materials focus on female contributions across history. Young girls are not being given access to positive historical female role models that could serve to inspire them to play a part. And when they look to the media for stories of strong women, they are unlikely to see many mentions of women in tech.

The truth is that women excel in the sciences. A STEM report claims: "In the United Kingdom, girls are shown to outperform boys in subjects including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics."

The lack of female interest in these fields is nothing to do with talent or ability.

Strike two
There's been huge debate across the education sector in both the U.S. and U.K. as pedagogues ask why women aren't more interested in topics such as physics. Some argue this traditional gender divide has led syllabus creators to manufacture curricula that appeal to the group most interested in the topic, boys. This perpetuates the divide.

Yet a new study by University of Texas sociologist Catherine Riegle-Crumb in the journal Social Science Quarterly shows that this divide fluctuates: "In communities that had a higher percentage of women in the labor force who are working in science, technology, engineering and math, ... girls were as likely as boys to take physics, or even more likely," the report explains.

The lack of female role models in the field has to be the reason females are not pursuing careers in these fields: after all, we know women excel in these subjects. In the absence of national or local role models, girls are less interested in the topic. No one has overtly decided this should be the case; it's just the nature of institutionalized sexism.

Strike three
Those females who do somehow make it into the technology industry must then compete with the legendary glass ceiling. Be honest: How many of us have seen relatively weak male employees promoted while incredibly talented females get ignored?

You can deny the existence of this glass ceiling if you wish, but then ask yourself why the U.S. Senate is only now expanding a bathroom for women? And there was no bathroom for women at all as recently as 25 years ago. Is there any example of institutionalized sexism more damning than that?

More evidence of the glass ceiling: 47% of the labor force is made up of women, but just 20% of the top jobs in the Fortune 500 are filled by females.

The existence of this bias is also hinted at within the statistic that in 2010, "the median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers were $669, or 81% of men's $824."

 

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