*Originally published 9/4/14*
We should be asking ourselves why: A response to Wired’s commenters.
After reading some comments on Wired’s article, ‘Obama’s New CTO Pick Is a Massive Win for Women in Tech‘, I feel compelled to write a response.
First, this is a win for all women, not just Megan Smith.
If more female role models are being hired into executive positions like these, and they are supported to be active thought leaders in the US, we are bound to see an increase in the ratio of males to females in the technology industry over time. I would even argue that this may contribute to a decrease of general male and female skepticism of women leaders, and will contribute to the increase of female business leaders in the US. Did you know according to the US Census in 2010 the top five jobs for women included secretary, cashier, elementary/middle school teacher, nurse and nursing aide? AND an increase of half a million administrative assistants is expected by 2020. We should be asking ourselves why. *Read more here*
It’s not because women “just aren’t interested in technology.” There are plenty of ladies that want a place in this part of world history (yes, I said it–history.) We just don’t completely fit into it because of modern day gender roles. Within the US (and other countries) cultural norms hold our gender back. As society changes so will our beliefs about equality and individual purpose… Behaviors of the masses will change, too. I believe this shift will happen over a [very] long period of time if it becomes an every day discussion in the media, if it is reflected in government initiatives/programs and in schools and alternative education, and most importantly, at home.
The notion that most women have zero interest in tech is silly, offensive and outright naive. I know 500+ women in my network that are very much involved and fighting to get their foot in the door in all types of companies in the tech world. Remember, I’m one little node in a vast world of nodes, lurkers, influencers, and more. A solution to fix this is to ALL hold ourselves accountable to change our mindsets, judgements and behaviors. They should represent our desire to have an equal playing (and paying) field in here in the US and throughout the world. We will all be better off!
I noticed feelings from others commenting that there is finger pointing about male misogynists holding females back. Yes, there are, and several at that. This is a reality. Speaking from personal experience over the last 11 years, I’ve been discriminated against and sexually harassed because of my gender, in and out of the tech space. I’ve never done anything to deserve it. My values are my guide in life. These unfortunate events have happened to me in different industries and markets throughout my career. To the people saying “we’re not all misogynists,” I believe you. I don’t think all men hate women in tech or business. My boyfriend, four brothers, colleagues, and many male friends enable me to understand that not all men today think like that. It is possible that you, unlike many others (male and female), believe in equality and have socially progressive views. The thing is, despite the positive support I have in my life the “He-Man Woman Haters Club,” is still alive, dare I say thriving.
Here’s more information for you to think about:
According to Forbes’ 2014 Fortune 1000 list, only 5.2% of CEOs are women. That’s it! Again, we should be asking ourselves why, but also, what can we do to change it?
Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article on STEM Fields and the Gender Gap (again by Forbes):
“The problem starts as early as grade school. Young girls are rarely encouraged to pursue math and science, which is problematic considering studies show a lack of belief in intellectual growth can actually inhibit it. In addition, there exists an unconscious bias that science and math are typically “male” fields while humanities and arts are primarily “female” fields, and these stereotypes further inhibit girls’ likelihood of cultivating an interest in math and science.
Popular culture plays a role, as well. Girls grow up seeing women in powerful positions as doctors and lawyers on TV, but the media continues to promote stereotypes when it comes to programmers, often portraying them as geeky men.”
*Read more here*
So, yeah. This small win has the capability to contribute to a larger success that women in technology and other industries are desperate seeking. My big ask is that we all become a bit more sensitive and curious about gender biased jokes, accepted, unquestioned societal roles, solutions for our future and generations to come, and lastly, how we fit into the shaping of our history. Thanks for reading.
*Congratulations to Megan!*