Monday, May 12, 2014

Why So Few Women in Tech?

Too few women are employed in the technology field, whether it be software development or information technology. As a student at Northwestern University, I have been exposed to technology, and discovered two news articles that begin to tackle the question of, "Why so few women in tech?'

In "Technology, Man's Problem", New York Times writer Claire Cain Miller notes that lack of encouragement for women to pursue education is not the only culprit for the lack of women in tech. Instead, a sexist, alpha male culture seems to pervade, which makes many women feel like outsiders in their own profession. Many women face unwelcoming environments, harassment from male counterparts, and for one woman, even death threats.  Despite having the expertise to succeed, more than 50% of women leave tech by the middle of their career.

In a CNN article, "5 Reasons Technology World Needs More Geek Girls", Teo Kermeliotis and Jessica Ellis talked to Regina Agyare, one of Ghana's first female tech entrepreneurs about why girls should join the technology field. Agyare left a lucrative career in banking to found a software company, and understands the difficulties women face in blazing their own path. She outline these five reasons why tech needs more women: improving technical innovation, reducing social inequalities, teaching girls leadership skills and critical thinking, stopping the workforce exit, and the low numbers of women currently involved in tech. She sees technology as being a gateway for women to become stronger forces in society. 

After reviewing these two articles, I believe that the technology industry can support women further by taking these three actions:
  • Eliminate Unwelcome Environments- Men and women alike, but especially men must work to create a welcoming environment for anyone interested and qualified to join tech.
  • Support Women in Technology- Women currently in the field must encourage younger women to join the field and explain the diverse benefits, from high paying positions to networking opportunities.
  • Create Benefits for Women to Stay in Tech- Too many women leave tech because it doesn't allow them to balance their professional and personal life, create incentives for women to stay. 
Technology is a diverse field with many disciplines, but the one common thread appears to be the lack of welcoming environments for women. Women must be encouraged to stay in the field through creation of safe work environments, support networks and incentives for longevity. 

Parul Kapoor is a senior Economics major and IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) student at Northwestern University from Saint Cloud, Minnesota. She will be joining Oracle Corporation in July 2014. To contact her, please email her at or on Twitter @parkapoor

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