Women in Tech Speak About the “Gender Gap”

This article originally appeared in MarTech

The perils of the persistent gender gap and lack of inclusion initiatives have been a point of debate for technology groups for years now. According to a report, women executives and girls are still lagging far behind their male peers in the digital realm. The report, Taking Stock: Data and Evidence on Gender Equality in Digital Access, Skills, and Leadership highlights why women and girls in various roles in the technology industry fail to get their voices heard.

Today, we spoke to Senior Women Executives from a specific industry – -Information and Communications Technology (ICT), who highlight various contexts, including education, jobs, and wages, security and privacy, access to learning new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their career aspirations.

Why ICT?

The UK’s latest GCSE results showed the gender gap in ICT has opened up. Five years ago, girls made up about 40% of entries for the ICT exam, but this year they accounted for only 21% of computing entries. But this isn’t an issue isolated to the UK!!!

In Australia, the University of Technology Sydney has lowered the entry score for female applicants in male-dominated courses to address the imbalance in Engineering, Computing, and Construction. And in the US, women are 12% less likely to earn math-heavy STEM degrees than men.

Gender Gap and Social Alienation Are Two-Faced Devils

Andressa Kalil, Director of Engineering, Tapad

In High school, I was always interested in Math, Physics, and Chemistry, so it was a natural progression for me to study Engineering at University. I enjoyed those subjects and was encouraged by my family and teachers to pursue it. At that time, Telecom companies were hot and the internet bubble hadn’t yet burst, so I thought it could be an interesting sector to enter.

“But it wasn’t until my first day at university, when out of a class of 50 people there were only four women, that I realized there was a gender gap. All of the women in my class felt socially excluded from our male peers; we weren’t invited to parties, sports, and other social gatherings, or included in classroom conversations about cars and video games because it was assumed these weren’t our interests.

“A few of us felt compelled to change degrees. One woman switched to design after three semesters in engineering because she couldn’t stand the social alienation. I even consulted a Psychologist and started a Second degree at a Business school, so I could feed my passion for Engineering, but also enjoy the social aspect of the University that’s so important. I’m glad I had the support of my mom and other female friends to quash my doubts when I started questioning if I was supposed to be an engineer.”

Two Problems of Gender Gap: Bringing Women to Tech; Making them Stay in Tech

Laura Koulet, Vice President, Legal & Privacy, Tapad

“I think the best way to encourage more women to enter tech is to ensure that educational opportunities pave the way to technology. For that, we need community and educational institutions to invest in programs that support females and encourage them to continue to pursue educational paths that will bring them to the industry.

But another challenge is ensuring that women stay in tech. There are many challenges unique to women in the field and parsing them all can be a complex exercise. If you are a female leader in tech, the best thing we can do is to lead by example and share successful strategies for navigating a new and ever-changing industry, mastering time management, building communication skills, and coping with emotionally challenging days.

“For those of us that have liked being in tech and have found ways to be successful, each new work challenge can be an opportunity to share hard-earned insights and framework thinking that guide young professionals to growth.”

Finding Opportunities between Personal Aspirations versus Gender Gap

Preethy Vaidyanathan, Head of Strategic Initiatives and Program Management, Tapad

“My advice to young women in tech is to talk with others about your intentions, goals, and aspirations as well as your progress.

“I have seen – both for myself when I was younger, and in other young women– the desire to focus on improving and learning, but while keeping a low profile. What I have found is that when you make your goals known, even if you are not (or think you are not) where you want to be, others will come to you when relevant opportunities arise.

“I may not have had the courage when I was younger to raise my arm or ask to lead a project, but by making goals visible, I have seen peers, other leaders, and my own manager nudge me to take on new challenges. While outside of your comfort zone at first, these opportunities can be the best way to elevate your career.”

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