In a recent Forbes survey, it was found nearly 40% of the U.S. tech industry has females, while in San Francisco, only 22.9% of the workforce is female. This is a gaping disparity — but more importantly and in my opinion, an definition problem. Technology is largely seen limited to hardware and software, so if you are not an engineer, programmer or designer, you are not necessarily entitled to the ‘tech’ label. Thus, with a lower number of women enrolled in traditional STEM fields, it is not unsurprising there is a subsequent lower participation in technology job market.
As we see tech companies becoming more influential and essentially, aiming for global offices, it becomes more evident that technology should no longer be limited to the traditional science. The backlash Facebook received when launching Internet.org in India or Twitter’s falling market share are all indications for opening up technology to the social sciences and liberal arts. Technology needs empathy, vision, inclusiveness and creativity — qualities that are often more attributed to women than men, and therefore disregarded as “too feminine”. It does not mean women cannot code or men are not empathetic, rather calls for a gender balance and de-stereotyping that will steer the conversation in a necessary direction.
While we still need more women to break barriers, come into STEM and challenge status quo, there really isn’t one way to achieve more women in technology. Instead of trying to push women to fit the industry, why can’t we push the industry to change itself?