Welcome dear readers, to the Other Press’ second themed issue of the year: the Technology Issue!
Technology is a topic steeped in countless angles and issues, which is why I was so excited to introduce it as our next themed issue. And right now, I want to talk about the gender gap in technology.
TechRepublic.com reported in 2014 that “In the mid-1980s, 37 per cent of computer science majors were women; in 2012, 18 per cent. … Seven per cent of venture capital funding goes to women-owned businesses.” Quartz also reported that “tech companies employ an average of 12.33 per cent women engineers,” and that Mozilla has “a 500-person engineering team but only 43 women.”
By contrast, TechRepublic.com also reports that “young girls are now showing interest in computer science.” Computer science and technology continue to be male-dominated fields, although young girls show as much interest in the field as young boys do, with young girls attending code seminars in droves, for example.
This is part of why I get frustrated when people suggest that women don’t enter male-dominated fields—including politics, business, and the like—because they’re incapable or disinterested; evidence would indicate that’s a load of malarkey. When it comes to getting into those fields and working your way up to the top rung, there’s discouragement along the way.
Now, obviously this isn’t the case across the board; there are women who break into politics, business, medicine, and technology. There are exceptions, but those exceptions don’t discount how women are discouraged from entering male-dominated fields (like physics, engineering, and technology), are relegated to the more “female-centric” areas of fields (such as gynaecology and paediatrics in medicine), and are sometimes undermined or disrespected in their quest to reach the top.
Sex has no bearing on a person’s ability to perform most tasks. A professor of mine once made an analogy between female soldiers and a man giving birth—as if a woman were incapable of going to war (not at all true) as a biological fact, much like a man’s lack of a uterus. Although sex has no bearing on ability, when women are seen as less capable due to hackneyed, stubborn gender stereotypes, you see them actively discouraged from entering fields, or entering positions of authority.
There’s still ongoing research into how and why women are so often discouraged from going into the traditionally male-dominated fields, and how to reverse this gender disparity. The #BanBossy campaign circa 2014 is one attempt at empowering young girls and women, but it’s also problematic. Banning the words “bitch” and “bossy” doesn’t address the sexist attitudes which are behind them. The words will always have power, whether we use them or not, whether we ban them or not—and they might gain even more power if we ignore their existence.
While we can’t solve this problem today, we can read this issue of the Other Press today! Our technology issue has coverage of everything, from apps that address gender gaps, to technological movies, games, and graphic novels; the future of technology; artificial intelligence assistants and holographic jewelry; musings on the Internet, social media, and their use; and an exclusive interview with Alexander Graham Bell. Enjoy!