Technology Sector still Gender Disadvantaged

women-and-tech.ashx_ I recently wrote a blog about how young women seem to be breaking the gender barrier in many different ways than their older counter-parts. Well, apparently this is not true in all sectors of business.

There are still huge gaps in representation of women in fields requiring math, science, or technology. This sector is in high demand for talented and skilled people to fill positions; however, the article stated that in 2011 women made up only 27% of employees in this sector. According to PBS, a lack of diversity is a problem for innovation and competitiveness. We need women to fill these positions in order to stay competitive and cutting-edge in a global market.

There have been many initiatives to encourage young girls to get involved in science, especially elementary-aged girls. I’ve seen it in my daughters school. The school district sends girls to science fairs and science camps aimed at increasing interest for girls to enter into science-related fields; however, out of a class of 25 girls they send ONE girl from every school and I’m sure not every school participates in this initiative, so a grand total of approximately 35-50 girls in the Edmonton area get an opportunity to see what is involved in Science related fields through this initiative.

Although this is a great first-step, this is clearly not enough to address the issue. What is required to get girls interested is a systemic change to the approach of teaching science. Currently science, math and technology are highly objective, methodical, and right/wrong oriented – which are the important foundations of these types of fields, but can’t these wait until the wonder of science and the fascination of how the world works is fully satisfied and developed first? Shouldn’t we be more focused on the process instead of the precise outcome at such an early aged? If more science and math curriculums focused on teaching girl students the marvelous and fantastic journey of the scientific process perhaps more would be taken by the wonder of it. My son’s school recently eliminated concrete right and wrongs for math. At first was appalled! How can you mark math without “a mark”? I was told it was a focus on process rather than correct and exact outcomes. It was about being on the right track, and I love that! I think more schools ought to focus on this and perhaps more girls will be drawn into the fields of technology.

What do you think? Can you think of anymore solutions to get girls interested in science, math, and technology?




2 thoughts on “Technology Sector still Gender Disadvantaged

  1. This is a tough issue because of the social constructs that society has put in place for girls for hundreds of years. Like boys are expected to be tough and the breadwinners of the family, girls are expected to be domestic, cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, etc. Many are under the impression that this isn’t true anymore, but it is. This is the first generation that has seen a large change in those expectations, but it’s still there.

    How many girls are OK with the fact that they are lacking in technology skills? How many girls are okay with admitting that they are bad at math? I can think of tons of examples that happen every day at our university. But when a girl is into these things and is good at them, she is expected to be better than her male counterparts, otherwise her expertise is discounted. It’s like with any male dominated industry.

    What needs to happen is that girls and boys need not be put in categories of what one gender does that the other doesn’t do. If you’re a boy, you can do whatever the hell you want and like whatever you want. If you’re a girl, same thing. It’s slowly changing, but it’s going to take a long time.

    1. Thanks for your valuable input Lisa! I thought I would pose this question to you, the “techie” girl, to see what you thought about the gender disadvantage in the technology sector. I agree with you, gender expectations still play a significant role in outcomes of interest for both boys and girls. Unfortunately gender expectations are too slow to change and still have a long way to go. Although there has been some progress, the PBS report is still dismal for this sector. I am concerned that this shift won’t be able to keep up with the increasing demands of a globally competitive marketplace. Thanks again, and I would love to hear you blog further about this if you get a chance!

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