I recently read a really good, thought-provoking article by Claire Cain Miller called Technology’s Man Problem. At first, I prepared myself for another male bashing article that missed the point and contributed little insight to a very real and serious problem. However, I ended up pleasantly surprised by how the author presented real concerns, backed by woman who experienced sexism first hand in their technology career fields. Some major issues women experience in male dominated career fields include everything from lewd comments and jokes, to unwanted romantic advances and threats, to even missed career opportunities due to not being taken seriously. The article focused on women in computer oriented fields, but these same issues are universal in all male dominated career fields. This unfortunately encompasses all of the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The more I thought about the article, the more frustrated with the situation I became.
As a woman entering the science career field, this is clearly a distressing situation that particularly hits close to home. I find it completely ridiculous, and inexcusable, that in 2016 women are still judged in their careers simply for being a woman. I’ve had female friends and acquaintances at various universities mention how rampant stories of sexism in STEM programs have chased them away from pursing careers in those areas. That deeply saddens me because I know they could have done great things in those fields if they hadn’t gotten chased off. Several women I’ve talked to that are already established in those career fields experienced sexism within their first few months of employment. No one should have to be subjected to harassment in their workplace, and no one should have to give up their career goal because they believe they wouldn’t have a fair opportunity to thrive.
This problem affects everyone in our country, men and women, because our economy and everyday lives are dependent on advances made in STEM programs. Plenty of innovations come from the minds of women. By creating hostile work environments where women feel uncomfortable and like they are not being treated equally, we are hindering our own success as a country. Those women are likely not going to stick around in a field they are unappreciated in and we’re all going to miss out on what they had to offer. All people should be encouraged to pursue the career they are most interested in and I feel our schools and businesses need to do more to address the inequality. It is a very real problem that should not be tolerated. An additional article, written by Dr.
Cultural Fun Fact!
In 2003, Norway created a law that required all company boards to be at least 40% female. If a company does not comply with this law, it’s shut down. As a result, Norway has the highest percentage of female CEO’s out of any country in the world. Additionally, a Norwegian study has shown that boards have become more professional and diverse since the change. Other countries like France, Belgium, and the Netherlands later followed suit and created similar laws.