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Women in Technology: The situation is not rosy!

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Less than one in three employees in the digital sector in France, 18% of ICT professionals in Europe, barely 7% of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley … Women are clearly underrepresented in technology. If rebellion and indignation are the most immediate reaction, then understanding the problem (for whom it is a problem…) and defining possible methods of action are the most positive levers. So why are we here and how can we change the situation?

The point is not to delve into the details of the social construction rooted in centuries of patriarchy, or to extrapolate an alternative to our hegemonic models that the emergence of more egalitarian, even matriarchal, societies would have represented. Many sociologists have worked on this topic. However, in the field of technology, even if there are more and more role models, there are still relatively few testimonies about the huge disparity so far between women and men. However, consciousness also passes through this.

Characters from the shadows

In the 1960s, regulation was the backbone of the IT sector. There were many women. these computer girls » As an article published in April 1967 in the American magazine Cosmopolitan under the title, Penn Actress 30 and 50% of the difference The future was ahead of them. But the tremendous development of the sector and the great income which it began to generate sounded the death knell for this distribution, and above all ratified a reality still unfortunately evident: managerial positions were, and still are today, the prerogative of males. counterparts. This phenomenon is not limited to technology. The same mechanism works in early Hollywood. Women were so ubiquitous there that cinema became a very lucrative industry. Then the men began to prey on wealth, which led to women being relegated to secondary jobs or star-studded roles.

However, women’s contribution to technology is far from anecdotal. Examples abound of major breakthroughs because of their work. Let’s quote Bill Mill Grace HopperOrigin of language COBOL Computer Programming Presumably the terms “computer error” and “debugging”, Elizabeth Feinlerinitiator label Domain classes .com, .gov, or .net among others, or NASA engineers Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jacksonwho calculated the trajectoryApollo 11 And who got their autobiography nominated for an Academy Award.

But how do we explain that the subject is still so unbalanced today? If it was clear that the fifties and seventies were dominated by male dominance, moreover, with a masculine tone, today this is no longer the case. Women are well represented in the number of students pursuing long-term studies, and in other sectors, the indicators change more quickly. If so, why is technology lagging behind?

Gender competence?

As surprising as it may sound, the low representation of women in tech is strongly correlated… with the low representation of women in tech. More seriously, the main obstacles are as follows: lack of role models, ignorance of inspiring paths, and apparent lack of female directors likely to lead to careers emerging. To make matters worse, even if there is a slight improvement, these are less popular than their male counterparts. Wanting to pursue a career in technology, for women, is still often tantamount to carving out a place for yourself in a world of high testosterone. This of course isn’t always a blocking element, but at least it’s an effort, let alone a fight. Successful women in technology are role models and fighters, but can society really justify this injustice when a person’s worthiness is determined primarily on the basis of gender?

In their day-to-day professional lives, women working in the tech sector are still too often in a minority position. This is a strong conditioning parameter. It is also a developmental bias for companies operating in this sector. By depriving themselves in this tangible way of a part (however the majority) of the population, they are depriving themselves of a necessarily different point of view and life experience. Even by reasoning in a purely pragmatic, even cynical way, the imperfection is colossal. At a time when companies struggle to recruit eligible profiles, a fairer gender balance could be an opportunity lever. Like all profound changes in the social balance in the professional field, this transition will take time. It’s time for young female students to be more and more and better aware of the (many) technical professions. The road seems clear, but it is still long. Because if the various indicators show that the topic is becoming more popular and the workforce is developing towards more diversity, then everything (so far) is not going in the right direction…

Pink Laundry: Pink, a thorny theme

Everything in the text… pink wash. pink? pink??? Yes, in 2023, to describe the phenomenon of misappropriating a cause (diversity and inclusion in this case), just like pursuing marketing or business goals, we use… sexist clichés. In English, all the same to ease up. But the ideas received die hard. And terminology is but one example, and one indicator among others of a much larger reality. There is no doubt that we could do much better than systematically introducing pink to women.

Celebrate a day Women’s rights Through customer-oriented actions (thereby reinforcing the exceptional nature of the position of symbolically less important women for a day) is no way to better defend the position of women in the company. Organizing mentoring and training programs on gender, diversity and inclusion issues, if any. The good news is that the dynamics are promising. From associations to discussion groups, through clubs, eg the ninethe initiatives that not only go in the direction of a more equitable representation of diversity in the professional field, but also of the modalities of access to it, multiply.

Like other economic sectors before it, technology is beginning to realize that not everything about women is pink, just as not all masculinity is blue, and that it is time that diversity was more of a pillar than a measure. We must also hope that this type of forum has its place only in the archives of a bygone era. In other words, this diversity is more than a new frontier, a new guide to the human formation of the technology company of tomorrow.

So everything can really be a little more rosy (and that’s not pink laundry!).

Tribune is written by Wilhelmine Dubuisson, Business and Accounts Manager at Prodware.

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