By Dr. Ken Manges, Ph.D. | Forensic Psychologist
A recent Rand article by Lucy Hocking points out that women are continually challenged in their attempts to be more involved in public technology because they lack access, have not pursued the education that would make them competitive and their career progression is thwarted by their male counterparts.
The article goes on to suggest that one solution to the access difficulty would be to provide internet access to women at a more affordable price and gives the example about how Finland has made it a legal right for its citizens to have internet access, the UK in 2014 promoted wide-scale broadband access and the U.S. has allowed low-income homes to have broadband access for under $10 per month.
Ms. Hocking goes on to point out, however, that access isn’t enough. Women also need to be nurtured and encouraged as females, especially between the ages of 13 and 17, when interest drops dramatically. Women only account for 20% of the tertiary graduates in IT worldwide.
One well-known antidote to the diminution of women in IT has been the “Girls who Code” initiative, which as the article points out aims to support the development of computer science skills among school-aged girls.
The next challenge is the good old boy network and IT is another career that poses significant barriers to accepting women. As evidenced by a low 9% of senior IT roles being held by women would suggest, women are not equally represented. However, some of this low representation may be that 60% of female professionals working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) leave in the first 20 years of their career.
There is some hope. Amazon Women Innovation supports women from disadvantaged backgrounds and SKY has implemented changes that encourage women to apply for jobs by making the job descriptions more appealing to women, mandating that 50% of the short list of new hires contain women and hosting recruitment events held specifically to encourage women to apply.