One of the biggest problems facing the technology industry today is that there simply aren’t enough women entering and staying in the field. The number of female graduates with computer science or engineering degrees has decreased in recent years, resulting in a lack of women holding positions in these industries. One reason for this problem could be because of the stereotypical “bro culture” that is said to exist in these industries and women’s fear that they won’t be able to fit in. This leads women to feel out of place in the industry,, causing many to leave once they have entered. Another reason could be because of imposter syndrome. This causes women to feel that they don’t belong in STEM classes or careers, causing them to leave these industries and decreasing the amount of women in these careers.
The goal for this problem is to increase women’s confidence and assure them that they do in fact belong in these tech fields. According to a recent study from Harvard Business School, 56% if women who enter the field will leave by mid career (Miller, 2014). This could be due to the fact that women are afraid to enter the stereotypical “bro culture” that is believed to exist in these fields. The stereotypical computer scientists are antisocial men who have trouble relating to women and interacting with other people (Cheryan, 2013). Women are afraid that they do not fit the qualifications to be a computer scientist, making them feel like they don’t belong in the field or STEM classes. In a statement from a New York Times article, the technology is described as a man dominated atmosphere saying, “It’s a boys’ club, and you have to try to get into it, and they’re trying as hard as they can to prove you can’t” (Miller, 2014). Women are fearful that they cannot relate to the “bro culture” that is portrayed by the media, making them turn away from technology industries and programming startups. In order to eliminate this problem, women need to have better mentors to demonstrate that they can be successful in this industry and progress in these careers.
Another goal is to eliminate imposter syndrome for women, especially through their education. Imposter syndrome is defined as “occurring when a person is actually doing fine, yet they feel that they don’t have the capabilities to succeed as well as others around them, making them feel like an imposter” (Warrell, 2014). According to a recent study, only 18% of computer science graduates are women, which is a decrease from 35% in the past thirty years (Miller, 2014). In order to increase women graduates in STEM fields and increase the number of women in technology fields, we need to be able to alleviate imposter syndrome and build women’s confidence in their ability to succeed in the tech industry.
The solution to this problem would be to target girls from a young age, building their confidence early and lessening their fear of failure from an early developmental stage in their lives. In order to do this, I believe that a social media campaign would be effective targeting young girls on the popular social media site, Instagram. The social media campaign would feature inspiration quotes that build confidence in young girls and increase interest in technology and STEM fields. This would encourage them to pursue these fields throughout their educational careers and could lead to a later career in one of these fields. Another important component of the campaign would be to feature successful women in the technology industry to serve as strong mentors for these young girls. This would show them an example that it is possible to be successful in tech industries and lead them to gain the confidence to pursue these careers themselves. The campaign would also feature camps and workshops that introduce girls to technology and STEM fields at an early age, providing them the opportunity to get started in these fields.
I think that the main solution to the problem of a lack of women in the tech industry and women leaving these fields is to build confidence in women’s abilities to succeed. By doing this from an early age, we would be more likely to give young girls this confidence and have them keep it throughout their careers. By building confidence in women to succeed, they will believe in themselves and be able to achieve success in technology and STEM careers.
Cheryan, S., Plaut, V., Handron, C., & Hudson, L. (2013). The Stereotypical
Computer Scientist: Gendered Media Representations as a Barrier to Inclusion for Women. Springer Science & Business Media.
Harris, N., Kruck, S., Cushman, P., & Anderson, R. (2009). Technology Majors: Why Are Women Absent? Journal of Computer Information Systems.
Miller, C. (2014, April 5). Technology’s Man Problem. New York Times.
Warrell, M. (2014, April 3). Afraid Of Being ‘Found Out?’ How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome. Forbes.