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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The Gender Gap in the Technology Industry Is Both Profound and Outdated

The world we currently live in is starkly different to the one that many of us were born into. We are a species that, once we discover an idea that works, obsess over it and continuously evolve it until the next great revolution comes along. We have given ourselves light. We have given ourselves instantaneous global connectivity. We have built cities, and invented semi-autonomous vehicles, and everything in between. Thanks to technological disruption and digital advancement, we live more comfortably than ever before. Technologies have given the world some of its greatest innovations and feats of vibrant imagination come to vivid life. Everything can be bought online thanks to the development of internet technology. We can click a few buttons on our smartphones, be taken to a website like Refine Packaging, and buy custom printed boxes or designer shoes within minutes (if that). All this innovation has been made for the people, by the people. The issue is that there is a significant gender gap in the people bringing the technology industry to its knees.

Even now, in a world where we ache and scream for gender equality across the board, there are some industries (like tech) that are still struggling to close the gender gap. The percentage of women in tech versus men in the industry is shocking. Women take up a disturbingly low 31% of roles in IT. Just 14% of that 31% in the entire industry are executive roles. This means that, even now in a world where gender equality is pushed higher and higher every day, men are still being given more opportunities than women in industries like technology. Why does this matter so much? This is an issue because technology is going to be the core of our future. As such, that future should be designed by both men and women. It is not rocket science to understand that any great industry that seeks to serve an entire community must have input and working hands from all those who are part of that community. The technology industry is no different. The fact is that the future is centred around technological advancement in every sense of the word.

While there should be no discredit to the men that have brought significant impact to the world at the hands of technological advancement, there is a lot to be said for the unsung heroines that have also pioneered technological reinforcement. One of the most unique, intriguing examples of women in tech doing astonishing things is Margaret Hamilton. During her time, Hamilton pioneered the code that literally sent humanity to the moon. By writing it by hand. Without Hamilton’s tireless efforts and passion for her job, we most certainly would not have made it to the moon so fast. Despite being a key player in the first human mission to the moon, Hamilton is not a household name that is immediately recognised. Shoved into the shadows behind her male counterparts, Hamilton’s contributions did their work seamlessly while she bore the reality that, during her time, her contributions to one of humanity’s biggest success stories would remain largely unnoticed in comparison to the efforts of her male counterparts.

Fast forward to today, and the gender gap has begun to close in many industries and sectors. Unfortunately, technology is not one of them. Even as more and more women find themselves being drawn to the tech industry, there is an innate sense of realisation that the gender gap in that sector is too large to ignore – even now. Women are just as capable and just as passionate about their work as their male counterparts, so what can be done to encourage more women to become part of the industry? First and foremost, there needs to be a cease to all gender biases at the hiring level. Many tech companies unfortunately – consciously or not – tend to hire males over females, due to the historically publicised contributions to the field by the hands of male professionals. And secondly, opening the channels of communication and encouragement to women as well as men. It is well documented that females do just as well in the tech field as men – sometimes even better than men – and so there must be a more conscious effort to make women candidates feel more encouraged and supported during the hiring process. Confidence is key.

In a world that is becoming increasingly digitally-driven, it should come as no surprise that the technology industry continues to rise in terms of global necessity. Even as we continue to conceive and work towards a future that is inherently driven by digitalisation, we are somehow still struggling with righting the gender gap that has plagued the industry for so long. When the future of our species is almost certainly going to depend on technological advancement and further development, it only makes sense that we should be encouraging more women to join the ranks of those bringing those technologies to fruition. After all, any industry that hopes to be truly inclusive and representative to the whole population should have true, lasting input from both men and women. Anything less is not good enough. Not anymore. Not in this day and age. It is more than time to campaign for lasting change.

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