One of the struggles that rightly gets parts of the news cycle with unfortunate sparsity is the gender gap we face in technology. This week, Susan Wojcicki wrote a blog post about what that means to her after her return from the World Economic Forum in Davos. As she notes, one of the biggest implications is how the pending revolutions in tech (using digital technology to change every part of our lives at an unprecedented pace) may be the progress to women because they are so underrepresented in tech. Fast Company speaks of all the benefits of what closing the gender gap in tech outside of the industry and Geek Wire has captured how bad the gender gap is at tech companies. A sobering infographic for you:
This isn’t a new issue and isn’t one that isn’t being addressed (to a degree) – that said, the gender gap is the largest it’s been in decades. You can find another sample of the gender gap here.
Wojcicki believes – and I agree – that the shortage of women is the result of both pipeline and retention issues. re/code has thoughts on addressing the issue as well. As we’ve discussed before, female representation in tech used to be higher – back in the mid-80s, numbers were much closer to parity and while other fields like Biology and Chemistry have improved, women going into computer science has and continues to decrease. There is a perception that computer science is boring, and what’s worse, young and adult women believe they won’t be any good at it and that’s simply untrue and offensive. Offensive not that women believe that, but that we’ve allowed our society to program them to believe it. That we’ve discouraged them in overt and subtle ways. Overt is pretty clear, but what do I mean by subtle? I mean by saying things like “girls can be good at math” or “boys aren’t the only ones who can code” even implies that a young woman is an exception if she likes math, if she is good at coding. When you attach gender as a condition in any way (positive or negative), it still points to gender bias. We won’t solve this as leaders today, but we can change how we speak and how we support our communities and engage to change it in the ten years. First, however, we must change. Go find organizations that are bridging the gender gap and get involved.