When we mention technology, the first impression has long been the stereotype of a group of men gathered together. It seems to be an industry driven by male talents who design, invent, and develop gadgets for their fellow men. A mindset that only men are excited about technology makes women who enter the premises seem out of place, clueless or is just there to draw more men.
In 2017, issues such as diversity of gender or race in the tech industry are being revisited and gradually undergoing change. The industry is welcoming more female. Yet campaigns on gender equality is moving at a slow pace as this issue has long been embedded and it may take more than a couple of years to alleviate. Recently, the issue once again came to attention following the news report of a Google employee saying, “women have biological issues that prevented them from being as successful in the tech industry as men”. He mentions that their personality makes most women less concerned about tech but rather seek social or aesthetic matters. Additionally, sexual harassment incidents in the industry repeatedly seen in the news also seem worrisome.
When we further look beneath the tech umbrella, we see that FinTech also undergo similar problems. Recent figures reported by EY and Innovate Finance reveal that only 29% of employees in FinTech are women. In the UK, 7 in 10 employees in over 245 FinTech firms are men despite the fact that women take up 47% of the overall labor market. At a glance, we can see that the figures don’t match.
Fintech Census also reveals that as we look into high-rank positions in FinTech, the situation worsens. In high-rank positions, only 17% are female. In several countries, we will observe that the figure goes even lower. This percentage drops to 13% in Australia and 9% in France.
So, why is this an issue? Aside from the creating a restricted area wherein women cannot enter and causing inequality of income distribution, having more men, means getting one-sided inputs. As customers consist of both men and women, having women in the team means more balanced, and a 360 viewpoint.
I don’t mean to blame this issue on men or say that we should hate men. There may be men like James Damore, ex-Google employee and owner of the controversial memo, who made tech women all over the world furious. Yet, ignoring his conclusion that women are not as capable due to biological issues, what he mentioned correctly and proves worth discussing, is that tech firms are trying hard to open up and create gender equality. However, this attempt may backfire causing male discrimination or indifference for the diversity of thoughts.
It can be observed that today, women are welcomed in spaces once reserved mainly for men. Yet, as mentioned, the problem is so deeply rooted that although the door opens, no woman walks in.
When we trace back, we will learn that the problem begins from school or even as infants. It can be seen that educational institutions don’t produce enough graduates on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer, and Mathematics). Hence, not enough graduates enter the labor market and so on and so forth. So, the solution may need to be done since the children’s early years.
BBC News broadcasted a very interesting experiment that dressed girls as boys and boys as girls. The children are placed on a mat full of toys such as soft dolls that are often thought as “girl-toys” and educational toys like mini cars, robots, blocks, and puzzles. Undoubtedly, when the volunteers, both male and female, see children wearing girls’ dresses, they automatically pick soft toys for them. On the other hand, once they see children in boys’ attire, although they are actually girls, they are immediately given robots and blocks to play with.
BBC summarizes that when children are often provided educational toys, their brains will quickly develop within 3 months. Boys are always provided educational toys while girls are handed soft dolls that are only good for a hug. Such stereotyping may contribute to the different paths women and men choose to walk and follow the “gender attributes” that we have perceived for decades.
Another issue worth supporting is promoting women in the tech industry to take more leadership roles. These role models should become inspirations, mentors, and set good examples for other women to believe that anything is possible. With such measures, the tech industry may soon have gender equality and become gender friendly for everyone. The sole objective should be to help create products and services that will make lives move forward, be more advanced, and create convenience without any “biological limitations” obstructing the way.