Getting more women into technology careers. Now.
Statistics continue to show a lack of women working in technology – what’s putting them off and what can be done within the industry to encourage more women?
The number of women studying technology has fallen this century from one in four women to one in 10.
The importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, collectively known as STEM subjects, has been emphasised repeatedly in a range of recent research and policy reports, both in Australia and abroad.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says STEM subjects are a priority. Picture: Santa Sabina College
The Australian Government and our Chief Scientist have made this focus clear stating: “At the core of almost every agenda is a focus on STEM. It is the almost universal preoccupation now shaping economic plans... science and innovation are recognised internationally as key for boosting productivity, creating more and better jobs, enhancing competitiveness and growing an economy.”
Here in Australia, it is projected that just a one per cent increase in people choosing a STEM-related career would result in more than 50 billion dollars in revenue for the country’s economy.
The benefits of women in technological fields is real.
So why does the proportion of women entering technology careers that provide the skills required for our knowledge-based society and economic growth keep falling?
CHALLENGES FOR WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY
In the field of technology, there is a growing awareness that more women are needed to grow businesses and meet the demands of a global marketplace. But the challenges are ongoing and there are current examples that highlight the problems many women face within the industry.
Two female academics were recently advised that adding a man’s name on their paper would improve it. This is an overt example but there are many others faced by women already working in technology fields that are numerous, subtle and often unintentional.
The most common and obvious of these is what’s become known as mansplaining– a term that refers to men over-explaining things to women that they already know.
As a woman working in technology this is a phenomenon that I have experienced often. If I ask for technical support, I will be given a simplified explanation and told that the ‘tech guy’ will do it for me. Despite the fact that I can easily connect a laptop to the Wi-Fi, there is an assumption that I wouldn’t understand their explanation of IP addresses or machine-based certificates. I wish this was a single example.
In contrast, some of my male colleagues have reported the opposite – that technical staff speak to them at a level that is technologically beyond them, based on the assumption that as men they would understand what is being explained.