Monday, December 1, 2014

Female and Technology

After my social media was bombarded with the story of Engineer Barbie and her helplessness in computer programming, USA Article, I began to think about the lack of representation of females in the tech industry. According to the following article about Google Investing $50 Million to Close the Gender Gap, Google-Girls in Tech only 17% of Google tech employees are women and only 12% of computer science degrees go to women. There are many reasons for this disparity, including lack of encouragement and role models. And then once women get the job Silicon Valley companies offer money for women to  freeze their eggs so that reproducing doesn't get in the way of work. NPR-Egg Freezing.What kind of message is this sending to girls and young women about how they are valued and perceived? I don’t see how women would feel welcomed and inspired in this industry. I recently spoke with a few male friends in the technology field. They not only confirmed the lack of female presence at their workplaces but also gave examples of biases that some tech programmers and developers feel about women in similar positions. Apparently, women have to continually prove themselves just as capable as men in these situations despite skill set and experience.

As a women getting into teaching technology I am concerned about chauvinism for myself and the students I teach. As an educator I would love to see more learning games, online activities and experiences geared towards school age girls. I have found two programs geared for girls and technology, Techbridge and Girls Who Code . I think this is an excellent step in the right direction for equality in the technology field. I also, think that perceptions of who, what, and how the tech industry operates needs to change in order for girls and women to become a part of the tech culture. 


  1. Hi Clare, great post. I am amazed at how much I love technology once I started this program. I have been a stay-at-mom for 7 years and as I reflect back on the people in IT from my prior job, you're right-no females. However, I didn't know a chauvinism existed. I just assumed it was more of a male position. I had a roommate long ago whose mother went back to school for IT and works in the field. I had never heard her express any negativity towards her from other co-workers. I wonder if this is commonplace or just in specific positions. But this is excellent food for thought, but I really think as our field becomes more and more accepted and used, this bias will dissipate as it has for other jobs which were commonly thought of for one gender or the other.

  2. Good post, Claire. As much as what you are saying is absolutely true not only in United States but also in most countries. That said, do you think that there is a lack of opportunity for women in this field? I certainly don't think there is discrimination in any way. In a Sociology class I took during my undergrad years, I read several articles that were about the same issue, i.e, reduced number of female students in sciences, in engineering, maths and physics classes. This inequality is more due to our society's success in inculcating values such as women can't do maths or they are poor in sciences etc. Now it is technologies turn. But I am skeptical about the lack of role model theory. In today's world, we can do anything we want to. Of course, there is the question of access but even that I think men and women have equal access. It depends on what we women want more than "if" we want. Most of my colleagues are women and 99.5% hate technology. They all have access to everything they need to improve their tech knowledge but they are more interested in other things. Where there is a will there is a way!

  3. Hi Claire-
    What an interesting topic for a post, and I guess one that most people do not think about. I am teaching technology to younger students, and this has never crossed my mind. Such great conversation to have in our classrooms around the use of technology. I would love to try out the girls who code site. This sounds so empowering to a young generation of female tech users. It is interesting to think in the field of education, it is predominately women teaching students, now to think that more women are teaching technology, but those who end up in the fields are men. I wonder how do we really close this gap. Side note...what an interesting read from NPR on freezing eggs, I didn't even knew that existed! I guess I have been in the elementary school setting too long:)

  4. Hi Clare
    This is sad. I recently attended an IT workforce initiative event and I was one of the only women in attendance. But alas, I am not a coder and left. I do not think women are being encouraged to enter the field. Technology is a huge umbrella. I had an interview and they asked if I knew javascript or html5. Duh, no. I really think that was "code" for we want a "man" because the job description did not mention these skills. I wonder: is technology the new bastion for the ole boy's club? Thanks for the post.

  5. Thanks for the two links; I sent them to my 12-year-old niece. I think if anything, the frozen egg idea shows how much companies want women in their work force. It does seem a little 1984ish, though. I think one of the reasons tech careers are unappealing is because of the tremendous pressure to put in LOOOOONG hours. Anybody, male or female, who is family oriented is going to think twice about STEM careers. Instead of freezing eggs, it would be nice if employers could figure out a way to make a career compatible with a balanced life. I wish I knew how.