When you picture someone working IT, who comes to mind? I would be willing to bet that most of the time, it is a man. As a recently exploding field, one might assume that the traditional distribution of male to female percentages in the workforce changed with the times. Women are still behind the numbers of men in this field by 20 to 30%. Some of that number also includes people that are in HR and office work as well which makes it hard to pin down.
Let’s take a dive into some of the women leaders of this industry and why women seem to still be holding to tradition when it comes to jobs in technology.
Most of these women are using their position to change the industry from within. They are championing the diversity of their own workforce as well as shepherding those platforms to become a place that is safer for the women that participate. Some of these companies have also recently weathered increased scrutiny by the public and governmental agencies as election fraud and information distribution became a part of everyday life. Suffice it to say, it takes some major "cojones" to run a company like that, no matter who you are.
The fact that these women are the examples for the women and young girls that are interested in technology is the important part. Until recently, there were few female leaders of this community to look up to. There have been plenty of male leaders and creators for young men to aspire to over the years. This transition is a great step to building the math identity for girls from a young age!
But why does the gap continue to persist?
There are several theories here and the debate on this topic can get pretty emotional. For a while, it was believed the difference in brain size meant that women did not have the capacity to process data the way that men do. This has been proven inexplicably false, but where did that come from? When scans are taken of female and male brains, one observes a small difference in size, but this is due to several different factors.
When looking at different regions of the brain, men were larger in 14 areas, while women were larger in 10. Even then, the variation within each gender means there is no identifiable male or female brain. Those who would claim that the difference proves that one would be better in math than the other, haven’t exactly proven their point yet. When tested, generally girls and boys in school perform relatively the same on math related tests.
So if there is really no difference to the brain of men versus women, why do we still see the gap?
A lot of the community believe that this comes down to learning styles. In a study conducted at Michigan State University, they found out that preferred learning styles between the genders actually did prove to be quite different. While male students preferred multiple streams of information taught in multiple ways, women preferred one single stream and a kinesthetic, or interactive, style of learning instead.
Traditional schooling tends to lean heavily on a mixture of teaching techniques that tend to cater more to boys. Classrooms around the US are taking a look at this and attempting to make learning more inclusive to all. Incorporating more models and movement into learning is a complete shift to sitting at a desk for hours on end while the teacher talks and makes notes. Not only could this increase female learning, but it could help some of the students left behind by traditional teaching styles.
An interesting observation was that women tended to score better when given open ended questions rather than multiple choice. On average, they were less likely to guess, leading to an almost 25% discrepancy in college entrance exams.
Is Education the Only Issue?
Another issue that one can see has to do with race and socio-economic status of the family. It is shown that wealthier families are more likely to invest in those camps or extra-curricular courses that are meant to encourage participation in STEM. Growing up, groups like Girl Scouts of America and Girls Inc’s “Operation Smart” are shifting to embrace STEM in a way that was previously ignored.
Bringing these activities into the same focus as sewing badges and cookies sales creates a value in wanting to learn math that might have ostracized young girls in the past. With a multitude of supportive communities, the rates of success are likely to rise.
How can we improve STEM learning?
Parents when we were young were preached that music makes your baby smarter. While the science behind that may still be fuzzy, it is proven that incorporating music or arts into a child’s learning can improve math and science scores. While most would assume that STEM and the arts are mutually exclusive, we are seeing the major benefit when STEM and the arts become one.
It’s about using something creative to teach a mathematical principle. This Forbes article talks about how centripetal force is taught through spin-painting. Or using math and science principles to build sculptures.
Society is at a tipping point. There are all these resources to revamp the way children learn and truly optimize the potential of the next generation. Women are stepping forward in ways that seemed impossible decades before, and it is exciting!
Where does Cima Solutions Fit?
Whether you are looking for IT Support in Dallas, Managed IT Services in Fort Worth, or IT Services in Denton; I am the one that you will run into first here at Cima Solutions. I am excited to be a woman in technology!
It is such a dynamic industry where learning is part of the everyday, and collaboration what makes it a special work environment.
We would love to hear from you! Whether you are new to tech, or an experienced company; here at Cima Solutions Group we have what you need, when you need it.