The representation of women in the tech industry has historically been dishearteningly low. However, in recent years, a wave of empowered women in tech has emerged, defying gender stereotypes and carving out their space in this male-dominated field. In this blog, I delve into the challenges faced by women in technology, the current state of female representation, and the potential for a more inclusive and prosperous future.
As an aspiring woman in technology, I was filled with passion and excitement for the possibilities the industry held. However, as I looked around, the scarcity of women in tech roles became evident. Doubts began to creep in, making me question whether women could truly thrive in this domain and whether the industry welcomed our presence.
Lack of Role Models:
One significant hurdle I faced was the scarcity of female computer role models to inspire and emulate. The small number of women in my class made us feel like outliers, as if our gender hindered how seriously we were taken or how our interest in technology was perceived. Without relatable role models, it became challenging to envision myself excelling in the tech sector, which subsequently dampened my interest and confidence in pursuing tech jobs. Unfortunately, this lack of representation has caused many women to leave the industry before reaching their full potential.
Despite the undeniable presence of women in the digital sphere, they remain underrepresented and frequently overlooked. Deep-rooted societal expectations and gender stereotypes have traditionally discouraged women from pursuing tech careers. However, with the rapid advancement of the digital era and the escalating demand for qualified tech professionals, a growing number of women are breaking barriers and making significant contributions to the field.
The uphill battle faced by women in technology is multifaceted, encompassing both limited participation and pervasive gender bias. Women often report feeling isolated and unsupported in their workplaces, hindering their professional growth. Shockingly, according to the latest data, women occupy only 26.7% of tech-related jobs, with a disheartening decrease of 2.1% over the past few years. Among the 552,751 tech workers across 56 companies, only 141,038 are women. Additionally, it is noteworthy that 56% of these women are women of color.
Shattering the Glass Ceiling:
Even more disconcerting is the disproportionate representation of women in higher-level positions. While women make up a quarter of technology jobs, their presence dwindles even further when examining positions higher up the organizational ladder, such as Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) or heads of engineering. Nevertheless, there are exceptional women, like Pendo Manjele and Cynthia Mulenga in Zambia, who have made remarkable contributions to the sector, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.
The Road to Inclusivity:
To bridge the gender gap in technology, the business landscape must become more inclusive and supportive of women. Implementing initiatives such as mentoring programs, networking opportunities, and comprehensive diversity and inclusion training can contribute significantly to this cause. By addressing the obstacles that women encounter in the tech sector, we can pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future, benefiting everyone involved.
While women in tech have undeniably made substantial progress, true gender equality in the field remains an ongoing pursuit. By empowering and assisting women in technology, we can foster a more diverse and inclusive sector that harnesses the full potential of talent from all genders. Together, let us embrace this transformative journey, unlocking new heights of innovation and progress in the tech industry.
About the author:
Ashley Jane Mungole is a Zambian advocate and public speaker. She is the founder and Executive Director of The Next Wave of GirlTech.