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Gender Bias: Where are the Women?

Addressing Gender Bias in a Growing, and Lucrative Industry

By: Letwine ‘Rumbi’ Mavima

Every industry has barriers and misconceptions that might keep people from exploring them. Sometimes these barriers are financial, sometimes they are the education level needed, and unfortunately, it is often the lack of representation in the industry including gender bias. Naturally, humans will stray away from environments that lack those that look like us. We like being comfortable. That is fair. The Tech industry isn't any different. When looking at the growing tech industry, one must ask, where are the women?

It hasn’t been until recently that little girls have been encouraged to explore industries traditionally “for the boys'' while growing up and navigating life on their own.  Historically, young girls were not meant to get their hands dirty or partake in any activities that were deemed masculine. Instead of helping dad fix a broken electronic, girls were helping mom fold the laundry and prepare for dinner. Math and science were labeled far too comprehensive for women. Simply, the idea of a woman perfecting anything outside of the home was unheard of.

The US Census Bureau Report shows that in 2014 only 25% of highly-qualified American female specialists enrolled in STEM field jobs, making the tech industry nearly 75% male.  Even large tech organizations such as Apple and Microsoft fail to employ less than 50% of women in jobs at every level, with men earning nearly 61% more than their women colleagues. The number of women is growing but the lack of balance leads to gender biases in multiple companies and organizations.

Unfortunately, some people are biased about a gender without realizing it and this makes it difficult to tackle the problem. The inequality that women face in the workplace comes in the form of salary, discrepancies, harassment, stereotypes, and more.  

Ultimately, due to the high male domination, 52% of women leave tech jobs and never come back. Seeing how few women there are in the tech industry, a growing generation of female students might also decide to avoid this sphere. The vicious circle strengthens.

It’s important to understand that there is a nudge to push more females into technology and STEM programs, and how gender bias can impact women in the tech workforce. We now live in an age that many jobs can be done from home, allowing a new mother to be at home with a newborn. Employers who once feared losing top women performers for months at a time, or possibly forever due to the birth of a child are able to worry less. That is the beauty of tech! A lot of work can be done remotely.

There have also been many initiatives and events that have emerged to get more women in the tech industry, as well as an educational push to get more women in STEM programs. These programs have been placed in K-12 schools across the country, allowing young girls from all backgrounds to explore their passion for an arena traditionally catered to their male classmates. This is important, especially at an age that growing girls can find themselves insecure while in male dominated spaces.

When it comes to the technology industry, gender bias is very much alive and well. But as more women earn IT degrees and get qualified to enter the industry, here is to hoping that the biases will one day fade away.

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