SWAG Comments on Female Underrepresentation in Tech

By Paula Bernier

We’ve heard it before, and we’ll hear it again: Women are under represented in tech at all levels.

Many sources indicate that the reason for that is a mix of nature (in this case, the nature of the male-dominated workforce and management) and nurture (how women are raised, how they perceive themselves, and how our culture perceives and treats women).

For example, Bay Area technical recruiter Speak With A Geek is helping spread the word on the female struggle for better representation and recognition in tech. And it’s offering its two cents on why women are such a small part of the tech space.

“Beginning almost at birth, girls receive subtle messaging that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are for not for them,” said Sarah Noyes, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at SWAG. “Everything from gendered toys, stereotypical advertisements, and even the subtle suggestions by parents and teachers can steer girls in directions outside of STEM subjects.”

SWAG goes on to note that just 18 percent of individuals with computer science degrees are women. And it provides this interesting footnote: In a recent study of 1.4 million Github code changes, such suggestions for change by women are more likely to be accepted by men – but that’s only if the fact that these suggestions are made by women who do not reveal they are women.

“When their gender is identifiable, there is a decrease in acceptance rate by 16.1 percent, demonstrating a bias against the perceived ability of women in tech,” SWAG reports.

The organization also notes that getting a good position in tech in the first place can be a challenge. That’s given that some employers may have concerns about women’s ability to be available and continue working in light of family demands such as childcare, maternity leave, and pregnancy.

But even after some women get their degrees and join the tech workforce, they may have to contend with cultures that are less than welcoming and uncomfortable. Noyes of SWAG says “micro-aggressions,” often in the form of sexist language or jokes, are pervasive in the technology arena.

That may help explain why women in tech are 45 percent more likely than men to leave the field within a year, SWAG notes, referring to a 2014 Harvard Business Review study noting this statistic.

But, Noyes of SWAG adds, awareness of such issue is the first step toward enacting change.

TMC is working to raise awareness of such issues as well via its Tech Culture Awards program. This Technology Marketing Corp. awards program is dedicated to bringing this kind of important information to light and recognizing those companies that are effecting positive change in the workplace.

Sub categories of the TMC Tech Culture Award program include the Tech Culture Award, the Tech Diversity Award, and the Social Responsibility Award.

For more information visit: http://techculture.tmcnet.com.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *