Why aren’t there more women in tech?
Sometimes I wonder why I ask this question—being one of the few women in tech means I have an almost private bathroom and a very low risk of ever having to share a hotel room with anyone. However, amid all the lunchtime conversations about the latest video games and best spots to play paintball, I wish someone would want to talk to me about the fantastic dance class they took last night. Yes, I’m totally stereotyping, but this also happens to me almost every day.
A typical day at AEQ HQ for Karen: strategy meetings, project management with the team, some hacking and dev work, conference calls with clients, stacks of paper… finding time for lunch…
“I’m often surprised there aren’t more women as the field is filled with smart, open-minded, motivated individuals who want to build great things.”
I’ve been in tech for about 20 years, and I love it.
I couldn’t have imagined a better field for myself as I’m naturally drawn to math problems and logic puzzles—working in computer science lets me do what I’m passionate about, everyday. I’m often surprised there aren’t more women in tech as the field is filled with smart, open-minded, motivated individuals who want to build great products and services. But then I look at shows like “The Big Bang Theory” (which I love) and think that its storyline may represent the reason high school girls shy away from the field—why be the “un-cool” scientist who gets stuck with someone like Sheldon, when you can be a fun, popular actress like Penny. “Modern Family,” another one of my favorite sitcoms, has a similar problem—do you want to be the well-dressed, popular, but not-very-school-smart Hailey, or do you want to be the geeky, don’t-care-what-I-wear, has-no-friends Alex? In the world of high school, where image is everything, it’s easy to see why girls don’t want to be associated with being good in technology fields.
The question about why there aren’t more girls in tech is not a new one.
And sometimes I ask myself why it’s important. With women now outnumbering men at many universities, and thriving in careers such as medicine, it certainly seems like women are progressing. So who cares if there aren’t many women in tech, if they are following their dreams in other fantastic sectors? My answer is that technology is going to shape the future of our world. By not having women in the tech sector, we risk developing technologies that don’t meet the needs of 50% of the population. As the Director of Planning at Aequilibrium in Vancouver, BC, I work with our team to develop cutting-edge mobile payment solutions. Women represent 80% of the buying power in North America—if we want our solutions to be successful, we must have female perspectives on the team. We cannot win if we don’t hire women to work with us. And we can’t hire women to work with us if there are not enough women in the field.
Karen understands the importance of taking time to laugh and enjoy downtime. Here she is, posing for her staff headshot.
My opinion is that we need to reduce the social stigma with being a woman in tech.
To encourage more girls and women to enter into the tech industry, I believe we need to reduce the social stigma associated with being a woman in tech and highlight the influence tech women can have. By showing fun, successful women excelling in the tech industry, we will naturally encourage more girls to think about a career in tech. And when we have more women in tech, we’ll be able to play a bigger role in shaping the future of the world and hopefully creating one where women have greater equality.
[Blogger’s note: I used the term “women” throughout this article, as this group has been specifically shown to have a low presence in technology-based fields. However, my hope is that people of all genders will feel empowered to enter this fantastic field.]
Director of Planning and Account Management at Aequilibrium Software