International Women’s Day further highlights the gender divide in the technology industry, but also celebrates the achievements of those women already in the industry – and provides a platform to encourage more women into tech
Some of the most influential leaders in the tech industry are women. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO; Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO and Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO, are just a couple of examples. But, it’s not just these famous names that are giving women a good reputation.
A study conducted by the Information Office of the State Council on gender equality and women’s development in China found that half of all internet startups in China are run by women . These females are the underdogs of the STEM industry and it’s time they are celebrated.
The industry can’t deny the fact there is still a disparity between men and women in the tech industry, both in pay and in the boardroom, but the way the industry has come and the direction it is going in should be viewed positively.
For decades, girls were not given the same opportunities as boys to learn about technology. They were not encouraged to pursue an education in technical areas, which has since driven a male-dominated culture for the industry.
Currently just 7% of girls take computer studies A-level courses and only 17% of those studying computer science in higher education are women, which is the lowest percentage in any field except for engineering and technology, where female students make up just 15% of enrolments. Of those that do take STEM subjects, only half (51%) go on to STEM-related jobs.
To overcome this, we must focus on the next generation of women to encourage growth in equality, as like Sandberg, Wojicicki and Rometty show, women are making their mark.
International Women’s Day and other female empowering movements alike are the perfect chance to highlight the brilliant work females are executing across all industries. The #WomenInTech movement is a great example of the support and drive for females in tech industries and has been vital to the empowerment and rise of women. Celebrations like this encourage and remind women to be confident, to believe in themselves, and to always know their value.
It can be an issue that women feel that they do not want to express or advocate the value that they are bringing to a company because they feel it will come across as pushy and aggressive, connotations that can be perceived as negative when it comes to female behavior.
>See also: Top 10 companies for women in tech
But women offer a different perspective that is important to diverse thinking. Females should be encouraged to find a company that appreciates diversity and values the progress needed for women throughout the industry.
A big responsibility therefore lies on women who are already working in the sector, to encourage others to follow their lead. Women need to stand up as role models and mentors to others and should feel confident enough to attend more events as speakers to get their faces seen among the men. Organisations such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing provide great opportunities for women to find a path into the industry through talking to other female technologists.
Other initiatives such as Girls in Tech London again celebrate and support females in STEM. It relaunched in 2017 and focuses on the engagement, education and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology.
This International Women’s Day it is calling on all women in tech to be as bold as their successes are, to be brazenly proud of their career accomplishments – and to lift each other up for all the world to see. It’s an exciting time for the tech industry and even more so for women.
>See also: Insider: Women in the technology industry
With support, inspiration and advice readily available, the industry is going through change and the outcomes will be impressive. International Women’s Day is a time to recognise and empower not only the females who are already in the industry, but the up and coming stars, who will be the next to make a change.
In a world where the rate of technological change is just astounding, it is only going to get more exciting for women to study STEM and go into a STEM related careers.
Who doesn’t want to be a part of something that is going to change the industry and the way that it does things? Engineering and computing fields have enormous social impact, meaning there is great value in the work that is done. We know that jobs in this field are more important than ever, and the demand is only going to grow.
Although female leaders are still in the minority, there are promising signs that this is changing – highlighted at events like Information Age’s Women in IT Awards.
Ultimately, when men and women work together, great things happen.