The "Women in Technology" Crisis of the Millenia
It’s 2017. The feminist coterie is making exceptional strides in their race towards equality. You can visibly see how comfortable the LGBTQ community is in their own skin now that they are largely accepted by the general population. Culture has changed. People's morals and beliefs have changed. We, as humans, are modernizing necessary parts of our lifestyle in order to attain our goal of acceptance and harmony. Though, there’s one thing that seems to be moving backward in its development; women in fields of work largely dominated by men, technology and computer science in particular.
The top 5 most successful and powerful female CEOs are all in charge of companies that are common in our everyday lives; Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Susan Wojcicki of YouTube, Ginni Rometty of IMB, Meg Whitman of HP, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo.
However, according to techrepublic.com, in 2013, women only made up 26% of the computing workforce, while in the 1980’s, 37% of computer science majors were women. That number plummeted to a mere 18% in 2012. Also, only 7% of venture capital goes towards women-owned businesses, and the website goes even further in saying that venture capitalists, as well as the average person, would choose a male over a female if both people came into a meeting and pitched the exact same idea.
Why? Why is it that, even though women have proven their capabilities within very large and successful companies, they are still seen as inferior when it comes to STEM careers?
Bella Daidone, a sophomore, had a few things to say on the matter. She said, “I myself have no firsthand experience with being a woman in technology, seeing as how I am only in high school, but I do feel as though women are discouraged from pursuing careers in STEM fields. I read an article a while ago that said that women have more self-doubt and tend to underestimate their abilities, therefore straying away from careers in fields of math or science, and not striving towards to higher paying jobs. They are then more encouraged to pursue careers like teaching. Men, in comparison, have more confidence and tend to overestimate their abilities and shoot for the highest paying jobs, despite whether or not they are qualified. I do not intend to go for a career in computer science, but I would like to see more women represented in STEM fields during my lifetime.”
That lack of representation is present here in our own school. The Robotics Club, run by Mr. Pinto, is made up of roughly 50 students; 46 of them being male, 4 being female.
When asked why that may be the case, Jack Taliercio, an active club member, stated, “I think that it’s something from our childhood. I feel like boys are more exposed to technology through things like video games (at least I was) and develop an interest in that way. I think, for that reason, it’s important to try and expose girls to technology and engineering more when they are younger. Also, sadly, I think there is a stereotype that suggests that only men can be interested in robotics and engineering. I couldn’t tell you where that stereotype came from, but it’s certainly one that should be addressed and overcome.”
Mr. Ambrosio, the club advisor for Journalism and the Yearbook Club, noticed a pattern when it comes to girls and their presence in these clubs. He said, “In past years, the Journalism club has always been male-dominated while the yearbook club has always been female-dominated. To me, those clubs are the same thing; both editing words and pictures. But I feel as though our female students see Tim Coventry and Alec Dobler walking around with headsets in their ears and walkie-talkies in hand, scrambling to edit the morning announcements, and they get the idea that Journalism is about being good at computer software, whereas in Yearbook, it is advertised that you are allowed to be very creative in choosing colors and fonts, and in turn, girls are more attracted to being involved in things that allow them to be creative. They don’t realize, or rather, it is not shown to them, that Journalism (being very close in relation to Yearbook) allows them to express their creativity as well. This past year, though, the male to female ratio in Journalism is pretty even, and I think it’s because last year on the morning announcements, Medora Benson and Hannah Bartfield were our anchors, which inspired our female students to join Journalism.”
These quotes and facts state that women are, in fact, poorly represented in STEM fields, and it is very visible and noticeable even in our everyday lives as high school students. They don’t say why women aren’t as encouraged to go into these fields, which will possibly help us figure out the solution to the problem in the future.
Skya Theobald, a sophomore, had an interesting proposal. She said, “I think that we have to look at it from a psychological standpoint; what makes engineering seem like a male-only occupation. During times of war, particularly throughout World Wars I and II, the women who stayed at home had to take over the family's business or medical and law practices, considering that all the men in their lives were overseas. But, the military still employed all of the engineers into the army in order to maintain wartime technology.”