Prominence and Power Positions

In July of 2013 Samara Lynn released an article titled “There Are Plenty of Women in Tech, You Just Haven’t Noticed”. In her article, Lynn makes the argument that the “real” problem with Women in Tech is the lack of social media representation, attention and approval given to the women occupying actual “techie” jobs.[1] However many people have argued that even when women do manage to enter the tech industry, they are pushed into management and business roles rather than purely technical positions. This raises the question: which of the two claims is true? Are women more inclined to take on jobs that require “soft-skills,” or are “techie” women simply underrepresented?

Lynn writes that “whenever I come across one of those ‘Top Women in Tech’ lists… it’s usually filled with ambiguous titles such as Director of Citizen Participation. Where are the programmers, system administrators, storage gurus, or networking engineers?” This seems to at least acknowledge the claim that women in tech generally take on the role of “managing people and bridging the business and engineering divide.”[2]

While personally perusing Forbes’ list of “Most Powerful Women in Tech” by Zheyan Ni, this claim certainly seems to ring true.  The list consists of eighteen women focused exclusively on COOs, CEOs, CFOs, Presidents and Chair Members.[3] And while this ranking is very likely be dependent on an association between these particular titles and power, it is noteworthy that none of the women on the list were coders or engineers; people who according to Miller “get the respect in the tech industry.”

I certainly agree with Lynn’s claim that women are just as capable as men in occupying “techie” jobs, however the title of her article is misleading. The fact remains that only “twenty percent of software developers are women… Comparatively, 56 percent of people in business and financial operations jobs are women.”2 According to Harvey Mudd’s President, Maria Klawe, women tend to stray away from careers in technology because they think it’s not interesting, they think they won’t be good at it, and they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable of happy working with.[4] With those three major contributing factors in mind it’s no surprise that women would feel more comfortable pursuing careers in management or business considering that according to the United States Department of Labor “the largest percentage of employed women (40.6 percent) worked in management, professional, and related occupations.” Simply put- these fields are far less male-dominated than technology, and by extension more accessible and inviting towards women.

[1] Lynn, Samara. “There Are Plenty of Women in Tech, You Just Haven’t Noticed.” PCMag.com 24 July 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2422200,00.asp&gt;.

[2] Miller, Claire. “Technology’s Man Problem.” New York Times 5 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/technology/technologys-man-problem.html?_r=0&gt;.

[3] Ni, Zheyan. “The Most Powerful Women In Tech 2014.” Forbes 28 May 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/zheyanni/2014/05/28/the-most-powerful-women-in-tech-2014/&gt;.

[4] Fidelman, Mark. “Here’s the Real Reason There Are Not More Women in Technology.”Forbes 5 June 2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/markfidelman/2012/06/05/heres-the-real-reason-there-are-not-more-women-in-technology/&gt;.

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