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December 2015
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Why Are There So Few Women in IT?

adult-15745_1280The world of technology has always been dominated by men, and it is reported a continuous decrease in women working in this field, despite the numerous campaigns to encourage them to enter the IT field.

Belinda Parmer, founder of the campaigning agency “Lady Geek”, used for the consultancy of big corporations such as Sony and Vodafone, comes with a solution to this problem. In the Miss Little Geek book she includes the drawbacks faced by women working in this field. The author is targeted at the employers, the government, and the parents, believing that women should be permanently encouraged to choose the job they wish for, without the problem of overcoming the limitations imposed by society. No job should be divided by gender, as long as it does not involve physical force, but intelligence and skills. In her book, Parmer demonstrates the beneficial contribution of women in the IT field, stating real facts: according to studies conducted by specialists, the companies whose management teams include women recorded a 34% higher financial gain.

Successful women who have high performance in their work field need to be promoted, in order to motivate young talents to start a career in IT. Models such as Marissa Mayer, the newly appointed chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc., or Sheryl Sandberg, who is Facebook’s second-highest ranking executive, are motivational examples for women who want a career in the technology industry.

In addition to the intimidating atmosphere caused by the male dominance, there are other reasons why women stay away from the IT field. They see the activity of using a computer as something which does not match their feminity. Emma Mulqueeny founder of Rewired State, has started to organize events since 2009, to facilitate interaction between mentors and young girl graduates. In an effort to promote Young Rewired State, Mulqueeny noticed a decrease in the percentage of girls who are interested in this. The reason was the type of promotion which was focusing on the negative side, assuming that there are too few women in IT, and this field is more specific to men. The idea which arises from this is that only “nerdy girls” have access to the computers world.

After changing the approach by removing the issue of gender differences, there was an increase in the number of women eager to pursue a career in the industry of technology. The presentation of this field in a universal way makes any kind of fear fade away, leading to a naturalness of all those concerned. It seems that the solution is to eliminate the inequalities from people’s minds, simply by not taking them into account and by not mentioning these aspects. Those in whose hand lays the power to get involved are mainly the parents and teachers, who must inform children about the vocational area in an objective manner. The only advantages and disadvantages to be mentioned mentioned must be related strictly to the activity carried out, activity implied by a certain field. A normal job for a person is the job that he or she likes. A woman should not feel rejected from a particular area, and instead of giving her reasons to be afraid, the society should provide reasons why the fear is ill-founded. Google gives us an example of such a campaign. They have developed an algorithm that identifies and fights against the reasons why women give up a career in the company.

Women’s qualities are questioned, and they come to a point when they feel disregarded. Leila Johnston, co-worker in the Happenstance project at Sheffield’s Site Gallery, was asked how many things she actually knows about her line of work. This kind of formulation calls into question women’s professional abilities, and they are labeled as being less competent than men. Such attitudes are daunting, and they can be found today in a society which is meant to be emancipated.

Motivation based on gender issues is not enough. Women will not start to do something just because they are women. The attitude which would get them going is one suited for every person, regardless of gender, and one which is addressed to the individual. Role models are those people who fight for what they want, regardless of drawbacks, without taking into account what others say. By embracing this thought, everyone will get the courage to overcome their limitations.

EduSoft promotes the presence of girls in the STEM fields, and in this regard, we organize an Informatics Contest for Girls, “The Beauty of Code – The Code of Beauty“, and an workshop on STEM, in which several students from the Republic of Moldova have taken part.

Gabriela Tăbăcaru 

(translated by Raluca Marin)