The technology sector continues to grow, both in the United States and worldwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 1.4 million new technology jobs by 2020 — and in all likelihood, not enough trained people for the positions. The future is going to bring opportunities in the computer and technology fields. For women, who have had to fight for recognition as valuable workers in the tech field, this growth may bring an opportunity for success.
While more women are in technology fields than previously, the job landscape is still difficult. Some may be surprised to learn this wasn’t always so. In the early years of computers, women were far more present in technology. The first computer programmers were women, and in the 80s, women made up 37% of computer science majors in universities. By 2012, that number dropped sharply to 18%.
Misogyny in the workplace is one of the main culprits for women’s exclusion from the technology fields. Most women who do pursue their passion for technology are typically extremely qualified and skilled at their jobs, yet do not receive recognition for their accomplishments — and must sometimes face daily harassment.
If you’re a woman in technology, none of this is new information. It’s not easy getting by in a world hostile to your presence. However, now is a time when the public at large is becoming more aware of the discrimination women in the technology fields face. As demand for computing experts is only going to grow, women’s contributions will be necessary for companies to remain competitive. The fact that these social and economic changes are occurring at the same time means good things for future women in technology.
Getting By as a Woman in Tech
Knowledge of the rise of women in technology can help you realize your own importance and value. However, sometimes that knowledge doesn’t do much for getting through the day to day low-level sexism at work. Women are always going to face barriers men rarely have to consider. How can you get through them?
Pursue your passion. Chances are, you got into your field because you are passionate about it. Whatever politics are going on in your office, it’s important to remember the love you have for your work. You should be working with the right tools, focusing, and doing your best work. If your current position isn’t where you want to be, think about what steps you would have to take to change that.
Surround yourself with women. Other women in your field will understand better than anyone else the problems you face. If you work with other women in your office, befriend them. Even if they’re not people you have much in common with, let them know you consider them an important contributor to your work environment. Just discussing your work can help you understand your office better, and even help make necessary changes.
Trust yourself. Sexism from your co workers or superiors can be hard to handle. You may be inclined to blame yourself, or assume you imagined it, or think badly of your work. Don’t fall into these bad trains of thought. You are an accomplished professional and should trust your instincts. Stand up for your good work, and believe yourself when you feel something isn’t right.
Being a woman in technology will probably never be a cakewalk. However, the tide is changing. Soon women will enjoy more respect, higher pay, and expanded opportunities in the technology field.
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