Tag Archives: sexism

The biggest problems with #TechSexism – here’s what you said

Wikimedia hackathon

The tech industry is struggling to overcome its problems with sexism in the workplace – both cultural and structural. Women are hugely underrepresented in all technical jobs, and a recent survey by The Guardian showed that 73 per cent of the people working in tech consider sexism to be a problem.

We asked you to share your experiences of sexism with us: What are the biggest issues? Here’s what you said, on the hashtag #TechSexism.

1. The sexist culture

Misogynistic jokes and not being taken seriously are both an unsurprising but unwelcome side effect of an industry with such a skewed gender balance. @blackgirltech described the cultural sexism as a problem:

The effects of a male-dominated workplace have been described by many of the women we’ve interviewed on Project Ada. City University lecturer Dr Simone Stumpf mentioned a brogramming culture she described as “casually misogynistic”.

Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons described something similar when we interviewed her in November.

“People still say to me ‘women’s brains don’t really work that way’. It happens every week. I won’t stop until I never hear that phrase again.”

2. The pay gap

One of our readers wanted us to highlight the gaping difference between men and women’s salaries.

And no wonder.

Here’s a bit of structural sexism that’s hard to ignore. Women in technical jobs only earn 73% of what their male colleagues earn, according to US organisation Narrow the Gapp.

3. Sexist and gendered products

Another reader called out needlessly gendered products. Especially when they’re also casually sexist.

Microsoft’s smart bra is supposed to prevent stress-related over-eating by detecting stress levels. (What they want male stress eaters to do is unclear).

This is the latest in a never-ending line of frankly incredible products. From Bic’s slimmer pens “for her” (finally, a pen my teeny tiny lady hands can grasp!) to extra feminine ear plugs or girls’ Lego (for an early start in gendering). Lady Geek, who campaign against this type of gendering, call this the “pink it shrink it” approach.

Thoughts? How do you think sexism affects the tech industry? Continue the conversation on #TechSexism!

Sexism in tech: Share your story with us

Wikimedia hackathon

We know that women are still under-represented throughout tech and STEM industries. Less than 1 in 5 employees at tech giants like Apple and Facebook are female.

This skewed gender balance become less surprising considering the many reports suggesting that sexism is widespread in tech workplaces. A 2014 survey conducted by The Guardian showed that 73% of tech employees considered the industry sexist – both culturally and structurally.

Join the conversation on #TechSexism

Project Ada is now highlighting this important issue and how to tackle it – and we want to hear your stories. Whether you’re a woman or a man working in tech: share your experiences of sexism – and thoughts on how to change it. We’ll be featuring readers’ stories in an upcoming article.

Get in touch with us here, send us e-mail on news@projectada.co.uk, or even better, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TechSexism.

(Featured image: Flickr/Sebastiaan ter Burg)

Women in tech: the best posts of 2014

2014

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

google diversity report representation gender technology

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

women computer science 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.

women technology sector curvery pay gap sexism gender split

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

Everyday Sexism’s Laura Bates on the “varied” abuse women face online

Laura Bates addresses the audience of A Web for Her | Credit: Keila Guimarães

Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, has been a prominent campaigner for diversity and equality in the technology industry. Because of this, she has also seen her fair share of online abuse.

She was part of a panel discussion at South Bank’s Web We Want Festival, called A Web For Her. It asks a simple question: what would the Web look like if it was run by women?

After the event, we caught up with Laura to ask her why it’s important to have true online equality.

She said that she’s been the victim of a lot of online abuse, and claimed that “abuse is much more varied than people realise.”

It varies from discounting women’s articles, getting abusive comments instead of constructive arguments, and being less likely to be retweeted and followed on Twitter.

“It goes all the way up the spectrum to really serious abuse. A lot of the stuff that I get falls into a middle-ground category, where I don’t think I should report it to the police, but it still completely refuses to see you as a human being”.

Women in communities

With this in mind, I asked Laura why it’s still important that she risks such abuse and threats by going out there on online communities.

The panel discussion focused on the the fact that there’s a lot animosity towards women within within the technology industry, and asked how we can persuade women to challenge and overcome such resistance.

The advantages of women in tech

I asked Laura afterwards what the advantages would be once this has been achieved. As she said in the event, “no matter how anti-feminist you are, you cannot believe that the statistics represent a true indication of where talent lies.”

Advice for women in tech

If you were to give a woman aiming to start a tech-related career or project, what would the one piece of advice be?

Laura’s answer was immediate: network. She urged women to get together with like-minded people to improve the industry towards a more progressive future.

As it happened: What would the web look like if it was run by women?

WebWeWant

Ashley, Keila and Sam brought you live coverage of A Web For Her, an event that asked a simple question: What would the web look like if it was run by women?

Live Blog A Web For Her
 

Decoded CEO: Lack of confidence keeping women from tech

decoded

Boosting confidence and a new perspective about what tech is. That’s the key to getting more women to choose a career path in tech, according to Kathryn Parsons.

Kathryn Parsons

Kathryn Parsons. Photo: Decoded

Parsons, the CEO and co-founder of London-based start-up Decoded, is here to spread her gospel and get the world – not least women – into coding.

“We believe it is a journey, and the first step is the hardest,” she told Project Ada.

Goal: Changing the idea of tech

Decoded’s Code in a Day classes get beginners rolling. You can arrive never having written a line of code, and go home having created a web app. In between, there’s time to go through the basics of computational thinking and the basics of languages like HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Kathryn Parsons says that she wants to reframe the world’s idea of what tech is. She describes going into classrooms of 17 year-old girls, and asking who thought of themselves as brilliant coders.

“Not one of them puts up their hand. When I ask them ‘are you a good problem solver?’ Are you a good creative thinker?’ all hands shoot up.”

Decoded was founded in 2011, and has now gone bi-continental, with the New York offices soon to celebrate their first birthday.

“We’re passionate evangelists”

Having studied languages at university, Kathryn Parsons herself comes from an entrepreneurial background, rather than from the tech world. Most of the Decoded staff are also self-taught coders who used to work with something else. But Kathryn Parsons doesn’t see that as a problem.

code in a day

Code in a Day participants. Photo: Decoded

“We’re all passionate evangelists. We want to communicate skills. Tech can often talk only to tech, not to the rest of the world. It can feel quite exclusive,” she said.

That exclusive feel may go some way towards explaining the lack of women working in the tech industry. The percentage of women in the workplace is not just low – but actually dropping, from 22% in 2001 to 17% in 2011.

“The stats are pretty awful,” she agreed.

Women lacking confidence

Among Decoded participants, who are pretty equally split among men and women, there’s no difference between genders in aptitude for programming, according to Kathryn Parsons.

“The difference is a huge lack of confidence among women,” she said.

Unsurprising, perhaps, considering the sexist attitudes that still abound about women and technology.

“People still say to me ‘women’s brains don’t really work that way’. It happens every week. I won’t stop until I never hear that phrase again.”