I recently watched a Netflix miniseries – The Queen’s Gambit. It was an engrossing series with a brilliant script. But the part which left me completely amazed was what impact can a bit of early guidance, encouragement and training leave on a child’s mind. In the series, the little girl was taught chess and shown a direction early on in life. She followed it and went on to become the world’s greatest chess player. This direction is what is currently missing in a woman’s life in the real world.
As powerfully quoted by Hillary Clinton,
“ Women are the largest untapped reservoir of the talent in the world.”Hillary Clinton
We are in the 21st century- A fresh decade with tremendous advancements in various fields – science, art, politics, entertainment, technology, etc. But let’s face it- the tech industry is still dominated by men and female role models are few. Join any team in IT or engineering and it’s easy to discover that most aren’t staffed to be gender-equal. I recently joined a tech company and the HR was all gaga about a woman joining her company as a technical professional. The technical team which I have joined has only 2 women (myself included) with a total strength of 10. This is just a representation at a very microscopic level. Women in tech roles are widely underrepresented. According to tech statistics for 2020, men outnumber women by far in the Engineering industry. A whopping 80% in this field are male, while only 20% are female. Alarmingly, 56% of women in tech are leaving their employers mid-career. At a point in your career, when you are geared up to move to higher positions, women leave the technical jobs and settle for lesser challenging roles. While the buzz around the need to encourage and bolster diversity in technical fields continues to grow, at the core we know that we need to do a much better job of exposing women and girls to technological careers.
Let’s get to the root cause of why fewer women choose technical careers. The first and foremost issue lies with the mental conditioning of girls since early age. Till date girls are taught to choose arts or music over science and technology. Most of the young girls think science or engineering is very tough and it is not their cup of tea. They assume that they will not be good at it and start pursuing other careers. To change this mentality parents and teachers need to inculcate technological interest in the girls since childhood as primary education is the foundation of a child’s fundamental thoughts. Girls should be encouraged to think analytically and logically. Fervent desire of not only taking up STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects till the advanced level but also excelling in it and challenging other groups at it needs to be developed early among young girls. Interestingly more men excel at technological careers because they are made to believe right from their childhood that Science or Math is interesting, complex, and challenging and tech would be a good career fit for them. They believe this and they invest their time and energies in the right direction and achieve success. That’s it. The same approach should be adopted for women.
As Plato rightly said,
“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”Plato
In addition to molding their thoughts, successful female mentors are needed who can set examples. Schools should invite female leaders to reach out to young girls and show them that not only is it possible to forge a technical career, it’s even empowering and fun. The onus is on female leaders in the tech industry to lead by example. I work in a tech company that has a female CEO and I surely find this very refreshing. I look forward to encouraging my daughter to take up a technical career and excel at it.
Secondly as stated earlier, more than half of working women decide to discontinue their tech jobs midway. It’s a known fact that women start with uneven playing field when in tech which gets more unequal as they move up the ladder. There are rare promotions and even rarer shout outs. Many voices go unheard, powerful ideas silenced. Their contributions are immense in the backend but the public acknowledgment and recognition are very much missing. This bias can demoralize even the strongest. The growth of technology has been massive and we are living in a world where technology influences almost everything we do. There is a place for all of us in these technical professions and both women and men should pursue technological careers to ensure competitiveness. The best way to support us is to treat us like other teammates: listen, give credence to our expertise, and help champion us internally. We all need to acknowledge and celebrate female tech skills in order to empower them. Female friendly environment needs to be created at every hierarchy in tech industry. Mentorship programs, coding workshops, and leadership trainings should be conducted in organizations to support mid-career women. Companies need to recruit more diversely and retain female talent. We need to make sure women are heard and their contributions are acknowledged. Their achievements need to be recognized and shared with the public.
To conclude, a little faith early on in life goes a long way in the future. All we need as young girls and as women – is this faith, the right direction, and a little push. The results which we can achieve will astonish the world. It is important to make the young girls realize that once they grow up their contributions in science and engineering will matter. Their ability to innovate and create something for revolutionizing mankind is as important as a man’s. Their ideas and voices matter and will make difference. It is necessary to instill skills and confidence in girls to ensure they succeed in STEM career fields.
I would like to end with this inspiring quote by Vanessa Hurst (Co-Founder of Girl Develop it),
Know our Super Writer:
Vijeta believes self-confidence is the best make up. One should take it and rock it.
Vijeta is an accomplished Senior Quality Assurance professional with 11 years of experience in the IT industry. She enjoys using her skills to contribute to the exciting technological advances that are happening almost every day and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. Vijeta is a travel fanatic. In her free time, Vijeta likes to read fiction, watch movies, swim, and gorge on Mexican delicacies.
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