Women in Technology
he topic of women in any industry is rarely discussed without the issues of gender imbalance or stereotyping cropping up. Such issues and the need to redress them are never more present than in the ongoing global dialogue concerning women in the technology sector. However, in an industry traditionally dominated by men, women are assuredly making more than just a dent in the armor. With women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer taking the reins as CXOs and VPs of some of the world’s most high profile Fortune 500 companies, the impact of women in IT has the capability to become significantly indelible. However, with women still only making up 10-30 per cent of the technology sector’s workforce, greater strides have yet to be made.
Women in the World At the recent Women in the World conference chaired by Chelsea Clinton and featuring a panel of female tech executives, the overriding message was to encourage the next generation to study computer science so that they may step up and take the helm at Silicon Valley. This palpable ethos of mentorship and collaboration is abundant among women across the sector. The main hurdle exposed at the conference was the inevitable stigma concerning women and technology. Children of both genders are growing up believing that the traditional 70 | Silicon Valley Global
“We live in a culture and society that tells us math, science, and computers are not for them. This is the most important domestic issue of our time. The train is leaving, and we have to make sure our girls are not left behind.” Hilary Clinton segregation of subjects into categories of ‘his and hers’ is something real or immovable. Panel member Reshma Saujani and founder of Girls Who Code, said at the conference, “We live in a culture and society that tells us math, science, and computers are not for them. This is the most important domestic issue of our time. The train is leaving, and we have to make sure our girls are not left behind.” Hilary Clinton, who gave a keynote speech at the event, espoused the virtues
of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘lean in’ mantra, announcing that “if America is going to lead, we need to learn from the women in the world who have blazed new paths.” One such woman demonstrating this need to teach and share is American Jessica Erickson, founder of Berlin Geekettes, a group of Berlin-based female tech entrepreneurs. The group hosts hackathons, collaborative projects and most importantly, provides role models and support systems for women in the industry. A mentorship programme is also a critical component of its functions, which couples young women starting out in the industry with their more experienced peers, and fosters an exchange of experience and much welcomed advice. Furthermore, special attention is paid to attracting the next generation of tech woman leaders.
The She++ Approach The relatively new She++ movement is also looking ahead to the future of women in the industry. Beginning as a Stanford University “Women in Technology” conference in 2012, it grew to be an initiative that was quickly adopted and appreciated by female veterans and newcomers throughout the tech world. Having transformed into a technological community for women, a She++ documentary was also recently released focusing on the lesser known women of Silicon Valley, the sharp drop in women taking up computer science, and the unbridled potential of future generations – if they’d only consider an
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