IS TECH SEXY ENOUGH FOR WOMEN ?
In the past, coding was considered work for women. As surprising as it may seem, before 1971 coding was entrusted to women. Indeed, at that time coding or programming was a low status office task. For Vogel, coding was a gender issue since from 1971 to 1985, the number of women in the computer sector tripled and accounted for 38% of the workforce.
The influence of women in computer science is so obvious that we owe them certain inventions. In 1843 Ada Lovelace invented the algorithm that made it possible to manufacture the first calculating machine. This was the birth of the code. After the Second World War, six women conceived the code for the very first entirely electronic computer: the ENIAC. They were KathleenMcNulty, Jean Bartik, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas, BettySnyder and Ruth Teitelbaum.
In 1984, a sharp drop in the proportion of women in computer science. Some experts in the field explain by the arrival of microcomputers on the market. According to Isabelle Collet, at that time the advertisements targeted the men and one heard phrases of the same kind as: “if you want your son to get a good job, make him study computer science!”
More than 30 years later, what happened? What approach do we have to this gender disparity in the technological field?
Based on my contributions and experience in the field, everything starts with the education of the girl child. School, family and society make us believe that to succeed in the technological field, you need to have the male mindset. Over the years, the woman in tech is described as physically unattractive and not feminine . The image of a geek leads to this misperception of the tech woman. The geek, this unfriendly young man has been so much presented in movies, novels and series that when a woman does not present this image, she tends to be rejected.
These prejudices poison the growth of the girl’s mind. She says she is less able to embrace a tech career because she fears her life will end in front of a screen and she would miss her life as a woman. Barriers are thus created in the girls mind. Feeding and promoting the idea that you have to think like a man to succeed in a technological career stifles the female spirit.
In some countries and regions, girls do not have access to school because they are resolutely destined for the noble career of housewives. In Africa, this career is called duty. For me, it’s about inequalities in access to education.
And when a girl gets to school, she has to deal with the system. This infernal system of education what misleads us in our underdeveloped countries. Once the baccalaureate is in the bag, students are misinformed and worse, misguided. Educational counselors do not play their role. You will agree with me that if we have a high number of boys than girls in science classes, it is obvious that we will have more men and fewer women in technology careers.
Young girls are looking for models of women to be inspired, but where are they? How many young women are able to share stories of inspiring women in the field. It is very common to hear as models, Steve Job, Bill Gates Mark Zukerberg etc …, great men who have marked the history of technology. But what about these women who have and continue to contribute to the evolution of the computer field? How can we connect the spirit of these women to these young beginners? How can we promote success stories? Questions that each of us must ask ourselves.
Let’s admit that technology trades require enough time, sometimes extra hours of work and more physical and mental resources.
Nowadays, it is no longer a problem of gender but of qualification because the market is very competitive. Technology companies are looking for competence first and foremost. Some women are not as invested in the job as some men. It is clear that if you do not have the skill, you will not be able to respond to the offer.
Among these low rate of women who have had the guts to start a technological career, many face discrimination, sexist messages, and harassment within technology companies.
It’s time to bring down the curtains and reveal the darkness of tech companies. I share with you some results of a survey made about women in technology within silicon valley companies: The elephant in the valley.
“We asked more than 200 women … Our respondents occupy positions of power and influence: 25% are CXO, 11% of founders, 11% of companies at risk … we also have employees of large companies, including Apple, Google and VMWare.
- 47% were asked to perform lower level tasks that male colleagues are not asked to do (eg taking notes, ordering food, etc.)
- 90% witnessed sexist behavior at off-site meetings and / or industry conferences
- 65% of women who report unwanted sexual advances received advances from a superior, half receiving multiple
These facts are real and are happening around us. In a voluntary or involuntary way, we are all part of those career killers of women in technology. It’s time to say STOP. You’re a woman, passionate about technology so remember Marianne Williamsom’s words: ‘Nothing will trap you except your thoughts. Nothing limits you except your fears. And nothing controls you except your beliefs. You want to see change, so get out of your comfort zone and affirm yourself as a woman in technology.