The IT market is predominantly male, but it wasn’t always that way. What prevents women from having a more substantial presence in the tech industry, and how can we regain that lost space? Computer scientist Karina Tronkos recently spoke in a Ted Talk about excluding stereotypes that turn women away, and we decided to bring some of what she presented here for our blog. Let’s talk about strengthening the female presence in technology?
The professional trajectory of a woman is interrupted by obstacles of different natures. The reasons why the IT market still has few female professionals are many, including historical, social, and economic reasons. We’re not going to try to simplify a complex issue, but we’d like to share some thoughts on one of the reasons women’s presence in technology is smaller than it should be: excluding stereotype!
Computers and video games aren’t just for boys
Tronkos quotes researcher Jane Margolis. In her book Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, Margolis showed that the gender imbalance in the technology market has increased since the 1980s. Why? Because this was when the first personal computers became available to the general public. The novelty was revolutionary, but the marketing for the new product turned out to be quite old-fashioned. Computers, like video games, were advertised and sold as men’s items.
What factors into the excluding stereotype
This early stereotype solidified that women were not part of the IT world. And the smaller the female presence in technology, the more the stereotype grew that this was not a space for women. A vicious cycle was created.
There are three factors that Tronkos lists to explain how this distorted preconception of the “women’s place” ends up being strengthened: exposure, lack of knowledge, and little vision of possibilities.
First, with marketing aimed at men, women no longer saw themselves in the technology market. There is not enough visibility for the influential women in the sector, the great leaders, and the innovative professionals. Over time, we begin to think they don’t exist. Without being represented, young developers are no longer occupying spaces, and the number of women in the sector is decreasing. Then again, we fall into the vicious cycle of self-creating stereotypes.
Secondly, Tronkos thinks there is a lack of knowledge about how technology is created. In general, the lay public cannot imagine what the routine of IT professionals is like and how the solutions we use daily are produced. Without a better understanding of work, it’s easier to believe a stereotype that says that activity is not for women.
And finally, the third point is the notion of possibility. For Tronkos, more women could enter the technology market if they knew how this area relates to many others. Programming, development, and design can be used to create solutions for health, sports, the arts, social actions, and many others.
How to break excluding stereotypes of women in technology
A single attitude can help break all these stereotypes: the understanding of belonging. The computer scientist says that women are gaining ground by feeling part of this world.
Tronkos said her view changed when she realized her work was valuable upon being accepted for an Apple scholarship. she said to herself.
“That’s it; I belong. I will do it and bring other women with me.”
For her, an excellent way to find belonging is to build and strengthen communities. Groups of women who help each other reinforce each other’s legitimacy in still very masculine spaces.
Taking back the room for women in technology
This talk about belonging isn’t just motivational. It’s reality. The computer scientist reminds us that women do not need to gain space in technology but rather regain a place that was lost. Great pioneers in this industry were women!
Mathematician Ada Lovelace was the first person, not the first woman, to create programming code in the 1800s, being one of the forerunners of computing.
In the 1900s, actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr developed the technology we use today as the basis for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
And engineer Grace Hopper was one of the co-creators of one of the first programming languages, Cobol, back in the 1940s.
“We belong to this world. We need to win back our place,” says Trokos. She asks that we begin to transform reality and balance the gender issue in technology, encouraging girls to enter this market. “We need to imagine ourselves as agents of change.”
Karina Tronkos is the creator of NinaTalks and has been an Apple Scholarship Winner for the past five years.
🌎 VANHACK, LinkedIn Talent Awards Winner 2021, is Canada’s most respected recruitment company. With more than 1,500 hires, VanHack is on a mission of increasing diversity and creating a borderless world. So if you are a software developer looking for a job abroad, in Canada, the US, or Europe, join VanHack today. 100% free for candidates, plus you will get all the preparation you need when your profile is shortlisted.
Visit our platform to become one of our many VanHackers hired abroad 😃
For success stories and tips about working in Canada, check out the VanHack Podcast 🎧
Learn more about 📒Premium Academy
Check out the next VanHack event 🗓