Our lives are now catering to technology more than what technology is catering to our lives. Humankind relies on smartphones, gadgetry, and the internet in a way that would have unfathomable a decade ago.
Let’s take a look at daily activities of a regular working-class human today. They wake up with an alarm rung by their smartphone, work on their internet-connected computer, click a photo which then automatically updates them onto a cloud, and go to sleep while thousands of servers across the world are securing, crawling through, and scanning their identity. Technology is an ever-present aspect of life today no matter what the age, gender, or nationality.
So, in this world, where the internet is run by humans and for humans, why were women made to fall behind men in this race from the get-go, and where do they stand now? Have they claimed their space and caught up? Has the ever-present gender imbalance been finally overthrown in this technological decade?
Let us take a look at where women were with respect to tech, where they are, and where they will be going.
20 years ago, if you entered a classroom of an IT course, it would be ambitious to see even one female in the class, let alone a considerable gender equality.
This is not a phenomenon that had factual gravitas or explanation. It was a general cultural outlook towards IT and STEM streams for that matter, that women are just not born with the pragmatism it takes to be in a mathematics, empirical evidence, and logic-centric discipline.
These marginalized outlooks towards women where they weren’t seen in engineering schools, mathematics schools, or science schools, also leaked into the mindsets out into IT.
Now, if there is a disparity in the learning place, after graduation, this disparity would be continued into workspaces as well. However, unlike other older disciplines, women have quickly realized this gender gap and conscious efforts are now being taken to get women into the technological workforce.
The Current Scenario
In a study by HackerRank, things are looking up but are not quite there yet. Out of the 14000 professional software experts and engineers they interacted with – only 2000 were women. The gap is much less than what it was a few years ago, but it still isn’t where it needs to be.
When we speak of women being trained to become computer professionals, the numbers are rising. Women not only from IT schools but from STEM are also a part of the technological revolution by contributing to various aspects built in coalition with tech, such as R&D, data management, hardware manufacturing, and the likes.
Today, according to numbers provided by Hacker Rank, women are 33% more likely to pursue a degree in IT that they were in 1983. Also, when it comes to IT, the basics of it starts with learning how to code. Now, the surprising thing about coding is that one doesn’t need to be enrolled into a college course to learn the skill.
There are enough resources where someone can learn various levels of coding in their own home regardless of what age they are and whether they have an access to a college education or not. This too is helping young girls in unforeseen ways. 15 years ago, there was a 20% gap between men and women in a Computer Science 101 class, however, now there is only a 7% age gap between current 16-year-olds learning CS.
Along with this, women are also gaining proficiency in computer languages that are demanded by the industry. There are many languages such as C# or Python which are not in high industry demand, but other ones like Java and C are being perfected by most women. This is looking upwards for women’s employability ranks in the current tech ecosystem.
Finally, no discipline in today’s world is untouched by tech. Be it media or academia, all industries require some form of technological backing. For these co-industries, women are pioneering new code, language, and tech solutions, which is making technology an invaluable aid. The two most dominant industries (apart from IT itself) where tech solutions driven by women are helping are teaching and finance.
Again, when you look at Hacker Rank’s data, there will be an unsavory revelation – that most junior positions in companies are filled by women and senior ones by men. This situation needs to be more equanimous and thus, it is a consistent goal many pioneering women such as Sheryl Sandberg and Laura Malcolm plan on attaining.
What the current situation is, is not ideal. But it’s not irreparable. Women are hopeful and positive that an inferior position that women have occupied by default in most fields will be repaired sooner in tech because of its dynamic nature and still-young days.