I have a bone to pick; probably not much of a surprise. This post will probably stir the pot, which is my ultimate goal. Don’t like what you are reading here? Guess what? I don’t really care. Sexism still reigns supreme in the world; if you debate me on this you are truly delusional. And this is still abundantly prevalent in the IT world. In a traditionally male arena, women are elbowing through, but are they really being heard?
I am a young, intelligent, educated, hard-working women who is directly involved in a technology field. I am knowledgeable about the products and services my company offers, I am excellent with customers, I am a good listener, I am analytical, I am enthusiastic, and I am innovative. And yet, in 2008, I am still encountering sexism (and to a slightly lesser degree, ageism) in my career field. Despite great efforts to overcome obstacles, I am still hitting my head on the glass “cyber-ceiling“, and frankly, I am pretty sick of it.
When thinking of the world of technology, the concepts of innovation, advancement, and progress probably come to mind. These attributes are often true. In many ways, technology has leveled the playing field for women. Women actually comprise a staggering 65% of gamers in the 25-34 age bracket. That is great. However, when themes such as rape are pervasive in many games, I have think twice.
The positive virtues are undermined by the fact that women are unrepresented in technology and therefore are not being afforded the chance to help shape the future of it. The fundamental structure of the technology world is unbalanced. Women only comprise about 1/3 of the workforce in technology fields. Because of this, women are not the voice of the future of technology. Right down to the smallest minutia of interface, there might be gendered-biased, not inherently, but because of the lack of female input. But these small problems grow to much larger issues such as salary discrepancies and being overlooked for promotions.
So why is the IT world still such a paternal paradise? I was recently at a client meeting. I was pleased because this was a company that I had been actively pursuing for a couple of months and was finally able to get a meeting with them. Everything seemed to be going well, I was wrapping up and scheduling dates for a follow up when they indicated that they would prefer to chat with my boss (who is male). My boss would give them the exact same information, but seemingly, they were not interested in hearing it from me. What am I supposed to do? I was furious, and when I told my boss, what made me even more angry, was the fact that he dismissed it as my being too sensitive, or not really understanding the client need. He’s not a bad person, but being a white male, he is the most prevalent type of player in the IT so there are few hurdles he faces, short of getting a bachelors degree.
How can women make their voices heard? They are just as capable, talented, interested, innovative, and hard-working as any male counterpart. Why is it that IT is still viewed as a male profession? Why aren’t women able to break down many of the barriers they face? Are there not enough programs to get young women interested in math and science? Is the dynamic of IT unfriendly to women, who more often than not are trying to balance the responsibilities of family AND work and are not able to travel or work the same grueling hours because of their domestic obligations?
Is there a way to solve this problem without completely overcoming sexism as a whole?