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There is a big lack of role models for girls interested in technology. If you are a woman in tech, can you be the inspiration others need? Tell your story, and impact at least one woman!
Women in Technology or even the broader topic of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has been discussed widely all around the globe. As a woman in Tech with an Engineering degree and a Masters in Management (I just blew my own trumpet, I am nowhere close to being humble, you know know!), I think I have every right to pitch in.
First, I should start by saying that I am really privileged to have studied Computer Science and to have worked in various levels in the tech field, from a corporate to a start-up setup. My family, friends, and colleagues have always been supportive, so I succeeded, or rather, flourished in my career…and continue to flourish.
But not everyone has the same privilege as me.
The first and foremost culprit here is exposure. Many young girls are not aware that STEM/Tech fields are something women can take up too. When they are young they are often introduced to ‘girly’ toys and ‘girly’ books, that do not portray them being engineers or scientists.
This gender stereotyping that they are exposed to early on in their life starts conditioning their brains to assume they are not good enough in Maths or Physics or Coding. This is off putting in every sense and they choose to sway away from pursuing a career in STEM. Movies or any popular media for that matter always portray those working in technology with a male identity where tech ‘dudes’ work erratic hours with their ‘mates’ drinking and playing ‘nerdy’ games.
I am not saying we need a new Hollywood movie about a self-motivated, energetic, larger than life female Tech CEO who successfully creates a competitor company for Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg making a cameo appearance in the movie.
But we do need more role models to break down the barriers and perceptions of young people. We need more female role models for the aspiring young generation of women to look up to.
While there are several hurdles for women to pursue STEM subjects or venture into technology, the poor retention of women in these jobs does not help the case of women in tech either. There are a multitude of reasons for women to leave the workforce such as harassment, unconscious bias within the team, gender pay gap and preconceived notions that women do not perform as well as their male counterparts.
I think there is also a level of judgement in the society about women working in technology because of the longer work hours. This puts a lot of pressure on them to achieve a good work-life balance and take-up more responsibility at home as well.
An ex-colleague of mine back in India left her job because she thought the society will not approve of her working in IT. A friend of mine in the UK, was actively discouraged by her family from pursuing medicine as they thought she did not have the ‘brains’ to study medicine because of her gender.
Things aren’t too different on the other side of the globe too, my friend working in ‘the States’ quit her job as her promotion was repeatedly refused and she felt she wasn’t given the credit she deserved in the male dominated group.
This sums up the problem well! If you see the societal barriers, and lack of role models as huge obstacles for girls to pursue STEM, retaining women in the corporate workforce or academia is even harder.
If you are a woman in tech who does not have a role model and is looking for inspiration, why don’t YOU inspire others?
You can be a leader and motivate others too.
Tell your story – that is an equally valuable thing to do to inspire other girls and women. If you manage to inspire at least one girl to take up STEM, at least one woman in tech to stay in her Tech job, you have played your part!
First published at author’s blog
Image via Pexels
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