As the year draws to a close, we’ve gathered some of the year’s best posts on sexism, gender equality and diversity in the technology industry.
Some celebrate role models and advances that have been made, others point out glaring cases of sexism in the industry. So, from #gamergate to tech giants’ diversity figures, here’s how we’ll remember 2014.
Why aren’t there more women in mobile tech?
Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA, wrote an article for CNN about the mobile technology industry. In it, she calls for more mobile women – saying that we need to make women in tech the norm, rather than the exception.
As we collectively strive to connect the next one billion users and stimulate the positive change that the mobile internet brings, we must ensure that women will be included in this upsurge.
Why female representation matters
In March, the Guardian‘s Aleks Krotoski told us why female representation matters.
Technology companies build products that help us make sense of the world. How can they do this without input from 52% of the world’s population?
The question in Krotoski’s subheading speaks for itself. The fact that girls achieve better grades that boys in GCSE and A level Maths and Computer Science, and yet drop out of the subjects to leave 82% men in higher education classes, begs belief.
In Defense of Women in Tech Groups
This article posted on Geek Feminism in March effectively mythbusts some common arguments against WIT groups. So next time someone tells you they aren’t necessary, point them in this direction. The author makes a clear case for why women in tech groups are essential, not least for networking and for finding role models.
Do you know how you go about combating stereotype threat for women? Logic dictates—and now a study shows—that female role models are essential. So, there it is: female-dominated classrooms, with female instructors, are an obvious win, for women learning technology concepts.
A Brightening Outlook?
On International Women’s Day, Forbes hosted an article talking about the “emerging opportunities” for women looking to develop in technology.
Leo King reported on several high-profile technology figures speaking at an event. While they warned that there is still a shocking lack of representation of women within the industry, they spoke of clear signs of improvement in the opportunities available.
They called for, among other things, an expansion of the opportunities out there for women in tech to advance their career – especially by focusing on education in developing countries.
It is in the interests of companies and governments to help women advance in the technology industry, [a vice president of Intel, Bernadette] Andrietti says: “Women offer a fresh perspective on product design, ways of working, risk-taking and many other aspects of business.”
No progress on inequality for 10 years
The Guardian‘s report in May highlighted just how far we’ve yet to go in securing a fair role for women in technology. The figures made for depressing reading.
The percentage of women taking the role has remained largely static at 14% since 2004, when the firm started gender analysis.
At the bottom, the article lists many organisations in the UK dedicated to helping recruit and retain more women in technology.
The Most Powerful Women in Tech in 2014
Forbes’ list on the most “powerful” women in tech gives us some role models within the industry.
The list is taken from a wider one of the world’s most powerful women in general – on this list, the highest from a tech company is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and the first female member of its board of directors.
In 2013, Sandberg released Lean In, a book encouraging women to materialise their professional goals by leaning into their ambitions.
Google’s Diversity Report
When Google published its diversity figures early this summer, a whole slew of tech giants followed suit, sparking a debate about the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in tech roles. The reports showed that barely 2 in 10 tech employees are women, and as Google put it themselves, getting these figures straight is an important first step to making a change.
We’re not where we want to be when it comes to diversity. And it is hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.
It’s Not Just A Pipeline Problem
This post on TechCrunch, published in August, argued that getting women into technology industries was a “trapdoor problem” as much as a “pipeline problem”.
The trapdoor problem is one we can collectively work on without having to wait for a new generation to filter through; and the first step towards solving any problem is admitting that it exists.
Jon Evans said that it’s unacceptable that people “turn a blind eye” to the fact that so many women are dropping out of technology-based jobs once they’re in one. He cites a 2008 Harvard Business Review report, which found that “between ages 25 and 30, 41% of the young talent with credentials in those subject matters are female … [but] 52% of this talent drops out”.
What it’s really like for women in tech
In September, Gwen Moran told a great story which she introduced by saying “it’s a pretty safe bet that no male CEOs could match this”.
In the piece, Heidi Roizen, cofounder and CEO of T/Maker, tells of how she was sexually assaulted by a company executive at a celebration dinner in San Francisco.
“One of the most responsive audiences has been men who have daughters who are entering the workforce,” Roizen says. “It would never occur to them that something like this would happen. When they hear these stories, it helps them be more aware and, when women come to them with these stories, to take them more seriously.”
Why Gamergaters piss me the f*** off
We know. We could make this entire list, or this entire site, about posts on the #gamergate controversy, but heck, who has the energy? However, Chris Kluwe’s open letter is an incensed tirade against gamergaters that actually made me laugh despite having thought that I never wanted to read about the topic again.
You’re ignorant. You are a blithering collection of wannabe Wikipedia philosophers, drunk on your own buzzwords, incapable of forming an original thought. You display a lack of knowledge stunning in its scope, a fundamental disregard of history and human nature so pronounced that makes me wonder if lead paint is a key component of your diet.
When Women Stopped Coding
This piece from NPR was published in October, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t get around to reading it until the other week. It’s a fascinating article that explores why the percentage of women in computer science dropped so sharply in the 1980s.
These early personal computers weren’t much more than toys. You could play pong or simple shooting games, maybe do some word processing. And these toys were marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution. It helped define who geeks were, and it created techie culture.
Women in tech earn less than men: Here’s one reason why
Fortune published some great data on the pay gap in Silicon Valley in November.
In it, they explore how women are – unsurprisingly – still paid significantly less than men to do the same job. However, on top of this, the report shows how women also ask for less than men at an interview stage. This is a significant issue in the mentality of people within the industry which needs addressing.
Survey: Women ‘belittled, underappreciated and underpaid’ in tech industry
The Guardian’s survey of women’s experience of working in the tech sector was published in November and makes for some depressing reading: 73% of tech employees consider the industry sexist. 52% say women get paid less for the same job. But the reports of cultural sexism are among the most shocking.
The gender split was 90% male, 10% female. I was hit on by almost every man I met, and felt like a novelty to the point where I ate lunch in a room on my own to avoid repeated awkward conversations.
Why women are leaving the tech industry in droves
December saw Sue Gardner write an op-ed piece about the important issue of women leaving the tech industry.
In it, she makes several points which are hard to describe as anything but common sense. Over time, she says, women are ground down by a perfect storm of hostility, demeaning attitudes and condescension. Women in tech are often subject to sexual harassment and have few female role models to look up to – why would the industry seem like a good place in which to work?
If you’re a tech executive, you want your available workforce to be as big and varied as possible. In that context a rational industry would shut down overt misogyny because in addition to being morally repugnant, it’s terrible for business. It would aim to provide the same things for female workers that it does for male ones: an enjoyable culture, competitive pay and challenging work.
Have you got any other ideas for great articles in 2014? Tweet us @ProjectAda_ and we’ll add them to the list!
Written by Clara Guibourg and Ashley Kirk