Gender inequality in the tech spaceShweta Shetty
One of the industries which is still far from seeing gender equality is the tech industry. The tech space is still male-dominated and women are still lagging behind. Over the past one year, there has been accelerated awareness of gender biases in the tech industry.
In any society, gender inequality affects us all. Gender is not as simple as it might seem - there are different aspects that come into play when gender is mentioned, like sex, gender roles, and gender aspects.
Each of these comes into play when one speaks about the different social problems encountered by both men and women. Sex is the biological difference between a male and female, but gender can be defined as the socially learned behaviour attached to the sexes, and creates “Gender Roles.”
It can be said that gender roles are not determined at birth and are acquired from one’s surroundings at a young age, as also from the culture and society one lives in. Gender roles are mainly learned and taught from the family, which has the biggest impact on how a gender is perceived. Family acts as an institution that passes on values and beliefs to an individual at an early age. However, one cannot fully blame the family if a person practices gender inequality. Gender inequality has existed since the time of evolution and exists till today, be it in a family, or at the workplace. In fact, research proves gender inequality is learned from one's family, and is reflected in the workplace.
Few situations when one can say there is gender inequality in the tech space:
- When men enjoy certain privileges over women.
- When men and women are not treated equally.
- When men use their dominant position to establish control over women.
- When the voice of women is discouraged.
- When the good performance of women is ignored.
According to the data reports of 2015, more than half the world’s working men and women were salaried. In the labour market, 52.1 percent of women and 51.2 percent men are salaried workers. There are gradual changes in the employment pattern across different sectors and organisations and the labour market has started to see gender equality as its corporate social responsibility.
However, one of the industries which is still far from seeing gender equality is the tech industry. Women in tech continue to see challenges as the numbers reveal. The tech space is still male-dominated and women are still lagging behind. Over the past one year, there has been accelerated awareness of gender biases in the tech industry.
There are many studies that show companies with a diversified viewpoint, different market insights, and different approaches to a problem achieve higher sales and have a stronger market share when compared with the less-diverse rivals.
Many studies have proven that women are good with empathetic skills, emotional intelligence, and have a helpful nature which helps in creating and maintaining a healthy working environment.
Then, how can one understand the possible reason for any gender gaps? It has been noticed time and again that women are paid less than men for the same type of work. In the field of study related to IT, gender inequality is still a big problem which contributes to the gap between male and female employees.
There have been various studies in multiple countries that show both men and women are twice as likely to hire a man for an IT job as compared to an equally qualified woman. This is a pattern being driven by an unconscious gender bias.
One can say gender stereotypes are tough to break, and we all might have been engaged in stereotyping at one point of time or the other. Being a society, we continually need to encourage people beyond the stereotypes, and recognise the contributions that each individual can make to the workplace or a relationship.
There is no denying that the tech industry has a serious gender gap. This gap exists despite efforts to encourage women to be a part of the growing tech community. It is a well-documented fact that women spend more time on social media platforms and on app purchases.
Tech is the future and since women are the major driving force today, they must be encouraged to explore the tech space. A female perspective benefits a tech company to a great extent. Companies such as Apple, Facebook, eBay and PayPal seem to be doing fairly well with regards to gender equality, but there is still a long way to go before the desired status is achieved.
There are some companies that have come forward in the fight against gender inequality, but the desired level of equality is yet to be achieved.
In the meantime, we can continue to dwell on the sad state of affairs, the persistent gender inequality in the tech space, and believe that things will soon change.
Being a women entrepreneur, I faced a few challenges in the male-dominated tech space. People assume that technology is predominantly a male domain, and most people thought that I may not be able to succeed, or might not be very effective. There are many customers as well, who would not take the claims of women seriously, and it was much harder to sign up a new customer.
Mansplaining (short for a man explaining too much) is very common. Male counterparts or male customers tend to over exaggerate the challenge, and explain things assuming a woman may not comprehend the subject fully.
According to my viewpoint, networking is very important, there are many industry associations I attend on a regular basis and to be true most of them are male-dominated and bureaucratic. It's really difficult to penetrate the network in such situations as people tend to look for a common ground while starting a conversation and invariably women would find themselves in a lonely space. But, the small steps that the society is taking for the equal rights for women, are bringing small changes to this industry as well. And, in coming years, we believe the scenario will be much better.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)