Gender Equality in Technology: Come so Far, Got so Far to Go
A simple google search for women in technology brings back hundreds of results for groups solely focused on closing the gender gap in technology.
Among these are several well-known organizations specific to the Pittsburgh area. These companies have everything from events to newsletters and trainings all focused on gender equality in technology, but the gender gap persists, especially in STEM fields.
The World Economic Forum recently released the Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR) for 2021. The United States isn’t even in the top 20 of countries surveyed for gender equality1. Women only make up 14% of cloud computing jobs and 32% of data and AI positions1. And only 10.4% of women are pursuing positions in STEM (compared with >30% of men)1. Additionally, women only make up 42% of higher-level positions despite being almost half of the workforce, a number that is surely lower if you were to sample only STEM positions1. Things are looking bleak for women in technology, but all is not lost. Research suggests that some aspects of the gender gap are closing. Overall, the US jumped up 23 spots in gender equality rankings from 2020, mostly due to increased political empowerment1.
But what about Pittsburgh, the city of steel that is transforming into the technology hub of the East Coast, where we have some of the biggest names in technology competing for our technology workers? SmartAsset ranks the best cities for women in tech each year and in 2021, Pittsburgh came in 51st out of 63… not great2. Pittsburgh saw only 26% of tech jobs filled by women and a 79% gender pay gap2. It seems that the systemic issue of gender inequality persists in the number 2 most livable city in the US3.
So, what do we do with this information? Sulk? Pout? Lament the fact that women on average make 65.4 cents for every dollar that a man makes? If you are asking me, we do the opposite of everything that was expected of women in the past, all the things that put us in this position in the first place. An excerpt from Housekeeping Monthly from 67 years ago suggests that women should:
- Have dinner ready - The implication is that a woman’s place is in the home. It’s 2021 ladies, if you want to be a SAHM, more power to you, but we have every right to be breadwinners too.
- Prepare yourself - this one stands, but in a slightly different context. Instead of preparing yourself by “putting a bow in your hair,” prepare yourself by being educated, well spoken, and confident in yourself and your skills.
- Listen to him - Let’s go ahead and totally flip this one, listen to her, who are your female role models, mentors, idols? Listen to their stories, take inspiration from them, and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Also, support each other, go out of your way to help other women in technology, especially if you are in a leadership position. Be a mentor, target and bring in more female candidates whenever possible, and participate in women focused technology events.
- Make the evening his - Instead of sacrificing your hopes, dreams, or career for your husband, maybe its time to share responsibilities and give yourself time and space to attain your goals.
- Don’t complain - Don’t complain but do provide solutions to problems as they arise, and definitely make sure that your solutions are heard, even if you have to repeat yourself multiple times.
- Arrange his pillows and offer to take off his shoes - Nope.
- Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity - Ignore this one completely. To attain gender equality women need to be heard. Be loud, question everything, form your own opinions.
There is some good news, in the US there is no discernable difference between men and women with respect to educational attainment1. There are local and national groups that are solely focused on eliminating gender inequality (check out the links below for some Pittsburgh based ones), and they do seem to be making progress. It is estimated that gender equality will be reached in the US in the next 67 years1. This stat may seem bleak, but keep in mind that 67 years ago one of a woman’s primary daily concerns was fluffing her husband’s pillows and taking off his shoes. Considering how far we have come since then; I hope that gender equality is much closer than it seems.