Brianna White

Staff member
Jul 30, 2019

Representation of women in tech jobs and university degrees has improved steadily over the past few decades, but we are far from reaching equality, particularly when it comes to technology. Women account for 21% of the degrees earned in Computer Science, and in the Big 5 tech companies, only 31% of the employees are women. These statistics worsen as we scrutinize more senior level positions with representation sharply falling off in C-suites and boardrooms.

To their credit, banks have done a better job than tech giants when it comes to gender diversity. But while company-wide representation may have increased, women are still underrepresented in tech-related jobs in the financial industry. The problem of underrepresentation in the tech field is a three-headed hydra and counteracting any one particular aspect without the others leads to less-than-perfect results.

Tech is from Mars: Rene Descartes' philosophy of the “mind-body divide” asserts that the mind deals with logic while the body deals with our baser (animalistic) instincts. The belief that men are rational while women are emotional is tied to this characterization of the mind and body. Since women are considered “emotional”, they are thought to be less-equipped to deal with hard sciences like engineering and computer science. This deeply misogynistic belief hinders women from pursuing careers in STEM. This results in classrooms that don’t have equal representation and cause women to feel like outsiders or imposters.

Lack of mentors: When fewer women pursue science, there are fewer women who can be role models, whether that is in the role of teachers or mentors. Since there are a limited number of senior role models who are women, young girls don't get access to mentors that can provide insights into the real world and act as affirmation of their goals.

A path to success: What use are technical skills if you can’t put them to use? Young girls need access to roadmaps and career guidance that can help them forge their own paths in tech.

Bottom line: When girls feel uncomfortable and foreign in tech classrooms, we get tech departments that are unrepresentative.

Perhaps we have to change the narrative around tech. If we don't have enough women data science students, how will we have enough women chief data science execs?

“You start to realize the problem permeates all the way into early education, and you can't show up in college and try to help someone -- you have to start early,” said Hari Gopalkrishnan, Head of Consumer, Business & Wealth Management Technology at Bank of America.

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