Women in Tech – Feeling Like an Outsider?

The question of the day, the month, the year: Why aren’t there more women in technology positions? 

Company leaders will blame the education system but here is what the women had to say:

Nearly three-quarters of the women said they felt like “outsiders” at technology companies, compared to just 17 percent of the men surveyed.

It is hard to get excited about going to work every day if you are going to feel like an “outsider.” My friend’s daughter, who is a senior in high school, walked into class on the first day of school to discover she was the only girl in the entire computer programming class. Just before the end of the class, the teacher took her aside and said “Please don’t drop this class. Please stay.”

The young woman has stayed in the class, but has expressed on a number of occasions that she doesn’t fit in. She doesn’t feel part of the group. She is an outsider.

Now magnify how that would feel in the work place where you hope your ideas are respected, that you look forward to being part of a team that makes a difference and yet you are made to feel like an outsider.

Tough place to go and feel motivated to do your very best.

In an article that examines the issue further, Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech?, the author encourages business leaders to look into making a change. 

There is a lot technology companies can do to attract more women and minorities. This matters beyond questions of basic fairness, or public relations: Studies have shown that businesses with a diverse workforce tend to be more profitable and creative than other companies.

One of the comments by a reader of the article asks an interesting question. 

Suresh Karathinnai

Isn’t it possible that the nature of the work does not appeal to women? Does it have to be that women are discriminated against and/or the old boys club does not want to let them in? Do we even know why women feel like outsiders? Isn’t it possible that people that enjoy doing very technical work have a culture – a way of relating to and behaving with each other – that does not appeal to women? In my profession (professional statisticians) there are very very few women that stay the course to take a PhD and go on to become professional statisticians. This is not because we discriminate against women. The sort of things that interest us and what we talk about in conferences may not be very appealing to women.

As a woman in technology myself, I have to disagree. I think that men and women alike have an interest in a variety of topics from teaching to medicine, sales to engineering, math and art. To suggest that technology doesn’t really interest women is a generalization that I take exception to. 

What do you think? Are you a woman in technology? Do you feel like an outsider in your field? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.