While women now make up the majority of university graduates, the workforce in many technology companies is still heavily imbalanced with regard to gender. It is still the case that the apps on your new smartphone, the technology that makes your advanced gadgets like all in one printers work, and the new screen on your tablet all were probably designed by men, not women. It is fair to say that women are surrounded by a digital and electronic infrastructure designed by men.
Many research institutions have found that men are more successful in obtaining senior positions in computer science jobs, even though women make up most of the university graduates. This bleak image is compounded by the fact that the number of women attending computer science classes is extremely low, with only 18 percent taking computer science classes in 2011. Governments, institutions, and research organizations are trying to turn the tables around by organizing panels and programs and developing different institutions to promote women in technology around the world.
The United States has been very keen to counter this gender imbalance, and in 2011 a panel was held by the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Valerie Jarrett. Issues discussed included gender stereotypes, workplace flexibility, role models, and education. The panel consisted of entrepreneurs and employees who shared their own experiences about the technology industry. The panel ended with two proposed solutions: promoting parenting and professionalism in work environments, and encouraging young people. With the solutions in hand, the US government is now encouraging companies, schools, and colleges to hold programs such as MIT’s 4-week summer program for high school girls to spark their interest in the tech world.
The dearth of women in the tech industry is felt globally. Venture Village reports that recently the Berlin Geekettes announced a Women in Tech panel at Campus Party Europe in Berlin in August. Another was held in Africa in March. By hosting panels, women who are in the technology industry discuss their experiences, and motivate others to walk on the same path.
Programs have been introduced worldwide to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, some of them initiated by the US government. The organization TechWomen has an aim ‘to bring emerging women leaders in technology sectors from the Middle East and North Africa together with their American counterparts’. Outreach from developed countries is one method of uplifting women all over the world to take greater part in the technology industry. Additionally, the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology has now quadrupled in size and is independently hosting programming in different parts of the world. Another example is the LBS Institute for Women in Technology located in Kerala, India, which has classes in fields of engineering and computer science. Bangladesh has also developed an institute for women. These institutes are also educating women about the engineering sector, and encouraging women to be designers, technicians, and inventors for the latest computers, servers, and other technology.
The global initiative of increasing gender equality in the world of technology is slowly spreading as programs develop in countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The collective venture hopes to introduce women to technology globally, creating diversity in the field.