Women in Technology
I had the recent privilege to speak to students at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. My topic was entrepreneurship, but I started thinking about women in technology and the need to encourage more young women to consider careers in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.
I looked up some statistics on women in technical positions at some of the most high-level technology companies today:
• Google: 30% of the company’s total workforce is female, but only 17% of the technical jobs there are held by women.
• Facebook: only 15% of tech jobs are held by women.
• Twitter: a mere 10%.
Women in leadership positions in the technology industry is just as dismal:
• Google: Women only hold 21% of leadership positions
• Yahoo: 37% women
• Facebook: 31%
• LinkedIn: 39%
Here are my thoughts on why we need more women in technology, and especially women entrepreneurs.
• Women get things done. There is a United States organization called the National Center for Women & Information Technology that studied teams across all industries composed of all male or co-ed. They focus on the R&D department and found that the co-ed teams were better at meeting deadlines and staying under budget. They also found that teams with women were more creative, experimental, and productive than all-male teams. The point here is that diversity in the workforce breeds better teams.
• Women bring a diverse set of experiences. If you’ve ever used an app, a program, or played a game online, you may have wondered why it functions a certain way. You may have thought, “that’s a strange way to do something.” Diverse teams bring different ways of viewing and solving problems so that the end result is a much more rounded experience for the entire population. Women tend to adopt technology earlier and use it more than men do. We need their input in the design phase.
• Women’s voice is missing. Technology is growing, changing, and innovating at a rapid pace, but it’s missing one side of the equation: a woman’s voice. We need more women in technical jobs so that issues important to this half of the population are considered when new technology is created. Tech will improve when you include women’s voices in its creation.
There are many theories on why women aren’t represented in the technology sector, and I’ll leave that for another post. Let’s instead talk about what we can do to encourage girls and women to consider a career in tech.
1. Start reading books about science and engineering to girls and explore technology with her.
2. There are videos on YouTube that teach children about engineering and computer science.
3. Encourage girls and their friends to join a robotics team (girls like to be with friends).
4. Create an expectation that girls are good at math, science, and technology.
5. Teach her how to create new technology like mobile phone apps and software—or find someone who can.
6. Encourage your daughters to take computer science and technology classes.
Probably the best way is to emulate for your daughters, nieces, and other girls an interest in technology, science, engineering, and mathematics. Be a role model. Or if you’re not in the technology sector yourself, find a role model or a mentor who is and encourage a relationship. Women giving back to our younger cohorts is an excellent way to cultivate a future crop of budding female technology experts.
I’m interested in your thoughts about women in technology. Leave a comment below. Let’s get a discussion started on women, technology, and especially entrepreneurs.