What It’s Really Like for Women in Tech
Despite holding 41 percent of science and engineering degrees, women fill just over one quarter of tech jobs. Put another way: men outnumber women 7 to 3 in the tech industry.
(Photo Credit: Kathleen Franklin/Flickr)
At Forbes, Harvey Mudd president Maria Klawe explains offers an explanation:
“We’ve done lots of research on why young women don’t choose tech careers and number one is they think it’s not interesting. Number two, they think they wouldn’t be good at it. Number three, they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.”
Why do women feel uncomfortable working in tech? Vivek Wadhwa hopes to provide an answer. Wadhwa has compiled stories from more than 500 women on that very subject in his new book with journalist Farai Chideye, Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology.
The book was inspired by the negative feedback Wadhwa received from men in Silicon Valley for his 2010 TechCrunch post, Silicon Valley: You and Some of Your VCs have a Gender Problem. His wife, Tavinder, suggested he reach out to the women he was trying to help, resulting in a book which shares a frank and gritty look at what being a woman in technology is like today, including tales of sexual harassment that will make you wonder if you’re reading about ad agencies during the Mad Men era instead of tech companies in the 21st century.
The project raised more than $46,000 on Indigogo in under two months, giving the team enough to complete the research and finish writing. Wadhwa points out it’s the women participants that shaped the actual content.
“We basically had a discussion forum where we posted the subjects of what the book was going to be about question by question and then women literally discussed with each other and voted on what the right answers were. Several of them wrote us lengthy essays detailing [the issues],” he says.
The book is helping to raise awareness about the challenges women face in the technology industry by helping women stand up for themselves when they see other women have been in uncomfortable situations, too, and that the behaviors need to be addressed. Proceeds will be used to educate women about advancing technologies and fund a few women-owned startups.
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If you’re a women in tech, have you been affected by this gender gap? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.