Saturday, December 27, 2014

The fall of women in the tech industry


The New York Times recently published a story covering the rise of the tech industry in 1994 and how it left women behind. The piece centers around Stanford University, whose students have created the biggest technology businesses by its male students since that time. The article tries to demystify the gap in gender sustainability in the tech field. While women had made up more than half of students who graduated colleges, including in the tech industry, they continued to trail behind their male peers in workplace representation. This continues to be the case two decades later.

Reading through the article, two main reasons are apparent. The first is that many of the women featured in the article were unable to compete with the men. As a dominant male enterprise, the tech industry is saturated with men who build a fraternity that excludes women. At times this is unintentional, but most times it appeared deliberate. Stanford University at the time was also dealing with the campus gender issues that have made recent headlines covering campuses throughout the nation. Having to deal with the pressures of sexual harassment and competing with aggressive men appears to have pushed the women that lived through the tech boom aside.

Another reason that women were pushed out of the industry is because many had either taken supportive roles in companies started and run by men. Others simply decided to leave the profession for the domestic life. Even after the tech bust of 2000, representation of women in the industry was still very far behind that of males.

These reasons were recently addressed in a survey that showed a majority of women who eventually leave the tech industry after graduation do so for the same reasons: Either the competition is too intense or the lack of support for working mothers forces them out. This is a blow to those efforts that have been trying to raise interest in the science and technology fields. Since the passage of the America Competes Act in 2007, there has been funding directed at the government and private levels to recruit more students in STEM based curriculum. While the purpose was to recruit both genders, a main concern has been to get girls at the public school and college levels to major in science and technology.

Reports show that although an increasing amount of women are entering these fields, they are still facing the same issues when the industry was at its prime: The growth is there but still too slow to create any real impact.

Link to the article: http://nyti.ms/1vBEn6z

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