Sunday, November 29, 2020

Make push for more girls in tech

For some reason, at the beginning of time it was decided that men were the dominant gender, and it wasn’t a woman’s responsibility to get an education. Women have been told what they should and shouldn’t do for far too long. Even when women get the chance to do something that matters and make a difference in society, something seems to get in the way, usually in the form of a brooding, overly-masculine man.

The number of women getting degrees and pursuing careers in computer science and technological related fields has been decreasing since the 1980s.

In 1984, 37 percent of U.S. college graduates with computer science degrees were women. Today, that number is down to 17 percent, according to fastcompany.com, a business website focused on innovation in technology, ethical economics and leadership.

I know women certainly have more opportunities to work in certain fields than they did 30 or 40 years ago, but that doesn’t mean sexism and bias aren’t still serious problems in the work force, especially its companies that predominantly hire men over women.

Some industries controlled by men include law enforcement, mathematics, emergency services and sports media.

It can be difficult for a woman in college, as well as in the work field, to be constantly surrounded and judged by men who think they have more of a right working there than you. Being surrounded by that negative attitude just because of your gender could be reason enough to think about quitting.

“Women’s quit rate in technology exceeds that of other science and engineering fields,” according to a study by Stanford University. The study shows that 56 percent of women leave their jobs at mid-level points in their careers. Even those who do graduate with their degrees and try to pursue their careers are pushed out of the field eventually.

Anita Borg has supported women by founding the Institute for Women in Technology in Palo Alto, California. The non-profit organization aims to encourage non-technical women to try computer science and to help the industry and academia.

Many believe the reason fewer girls are pursuing computing careers is from sexism that begins at birth. From a young age, girls are told that boys are better at math and science, and this deflates their confidence before they have a chance to know what they like.

Programming used to be considered a woman’s job in the 1980s, but that changed when technology began to advance, and computers and portable electronic devices were being created. These electronics were considered boys toys, and dolls were geared toward girls.

Many people have realized that there shouldn’t be a difference between boys and girls toys. Companies today have been making efforts to create more gender-neutral games and toys so that boys and girls aren’t viewed differently. This is helpful for future generations, but for the ones who already grew up being taught that pink is a “girl” color and blue is a “boy” color, the damage has already been done.

Today, only 30 percent of Google, Apple and Twitter’s technological roles are held by women. Out of every 20 girls, only one will pursue jobs in ICT, information and communications technologies, compared to the 1-in-5 boys who will, according to www.nextgeneration.ie, a job recruitment website.

Girls and boys need to be encouraged from a young age that they can do whatever they want. One gender shouldn’t be told they’re better than the other at certain things. That will only make them mistreat others because of their false feeling of superiority.

Although the technological field is lacking two X chromosomes, the number of women working in fields such as biology or chemistry has increased in the last 20 years. Women can excel in jobs such as generalist medical practitioners, dental hygienists and psychologists.

Women aren’t from Venus, and men are not from Mars. We are all from the same place and equally deserve a shot at whatever we want to do.

Email Laura Schmidt at opinions@cardinalpointsonline.com

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