The Tech Industry Gender Gap

Inspire Fest 2015

We recently attended an event called the InspireFest, which was a 2 day event focusing on equality between genders and also lowering the gender gap in various occupations. There were many keynotes given at this event from many different perspectives but, at this time, we will focus on the Tech Industry.

The Gender Gap

As you can see women only take up 20% of the tech market whereas men take up the other 80%, which is astounding when taking into consideration females account for 50% of the world population. Many times during InspireFest stereotyping has been mentioned; how we as people created gender tropes for occupations such as those technology related for example: The software coder – we as a whole assume that the software coder is a nerdy male with little to no friends who spend hours on computers and have issues talking to females. What then of female coders? Do they not exist?

Female coders of course exist and are quite prevalent in their industry as well as men. I’ll give you an example:

Grace Murray Hooper

was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer in 1944, and invented the first compiler for a computer programming language, and was one of those who popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer). Owing to her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace”. The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.

Grace Murray Hooper was definitely not one of the stereo types you see on Tv or portrayed in Media

Is Stereotyping to Blame?

At InspireFest we learned there was sadly more to the large gap than just stereotyping to blame for the large gap.

Gender Bias was also a factor.

Gender Bias can be unconscious as well as conscious.  This means that an employer may treat the employee wrongly based on their gender. Unconscious gender means they were not aware they were doing it.

Valid points were certainly raised during inspirefest.

Speaking at the InspireFest 2015 panel on A Workplace & Workforce for the 21st Century, Fionnuala Meehan, director of SMB sales EMEA for Google, addressed the various issues the technology company found that contribute to the dearth of women pursuing a career in technology.She explained how bias training is an important step to further the advancement in female participation and also stated: “The best outcomes arise from mixed gender teams. Diversity is not the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Women Who Code, the fast-growing movement that aims to eradicate the gender bias in the IT industry by teaching code, will soon be establishing a branch in Dublin, the founder of Women Who Code UK Sheree Atcheson told Inspirefest 2015.Atcheson said that Women Who Code has grown to more than 25,000 members in 15 countries.

“We are here to provide an avenue for women in technology and erase this gender bias. We try to do that by creating a place for women in their local area.”

Women who code also plan to set up a studio in Dublin in the near future.

What can be done?

According to new research from Gender Gap Grader, a project to analyse data using name recognition software, the gender gap in science is slowly but surely narrowing. Of 1m scientists listed in scientist profile database, 33pc are women.

Analysing the gender of the names listed in another researcher database, HighlyCited, it was found that, while in 2001 women scientists represented 7pc of all researchers, this number grew to 13pc in 2014.

“We found that there’s been a significant improvement in many fields. For virtually every single field the representation of women rose from the single digits to double. Except for physics, where the numbers dropped,” said Gender Gap Grader co-founder Elena Rossini speaking at Inspirefest 2015 in Dublin today.

For some STEM fields in particular, the gap is closing more rapidly: the number of women engineers listed on HighlyCited has gone from 1pc to 11pc in the last 14 years, while in maths this has risen from 4pc to 11pc.

Hopefully this will continue to rise with the ongoing effort of bias training and incentives many companies and institutes are using.

Source: Inspirefest Website