How often have you read a story about the lack of women working in technology which goes on to suggest promoting tech careers to schoolgirls as a solution?
The idea is dumb and patronising.
Dumb because women face problems with technology careers that a marketing campaign won’t fix.
Patronising to think dishonest marketing can fool women.
Look at the facts.
- The number of women in technology has declined. Some say the number has been declining for a decade. In fact, the number of US women in tech peaked in the 1980s. It’ll be roughly the same here.
- Women leave technology to work elsewhere. This is more worrying than the lack of women entering the industry. It says a marketing campaign won’t work long-term.
- There’s still a pay gap in IT. The numbers are from Australia, they won’t be different in New Zealand, many tech companies here report to Sydney.
- Girls are scared of boring, lonely tech careers.
- And let’s not forget there are sexist attitudes in the industry. We’ve all heard stories of woman being sexually harassed at industry functions.
Of course many women working in technology love the industry. We could start by asking them about what they like and what frustrates them.
But the real problem is down to the people running technology companies — men and women. Clearly women don’t think they do enough to make them feel wanted and appreciated. They don’t feel they are fairly paid. They worry bosses do little more than pay lip service to ideas of equality and are not acting quickly to stamp out arsehole behaviour.