Women in Technology: Fighting Sexism and Racism in the Workplace
What's with the rise of women entrepreneurship? Many believe it is because of the shrinking opportunities in the workplace for women, especially women of color. Sexism and racism has been a hot topic in the news for the last five to ten years, even more so with our current president. A combination of the market crash in 2008 and institutional racism has made it harder for women of color to break the glass ceiling in technology.
Google Discrimination Leads to Uneven Playing Field
This viral story that broke out about a woman named Qichen Zhang, a former technical specialist at Google, who explains the discrimination she felt while working there. She remembered a meeting where she "was the only woman, surrounded by white male engineers, who excluded her from the discussion". She also claims that Google doesn't want to "put in the work to understand racism and sexism" because they want to get good press. Zhang isn't the only one making this claim, promoted technical solutions specialist engineer, Lakshmi Parthasarathy, states that "she lacked female mentors and managers" and that it was rare for her to find another woman in her position. Parthasarathy says "it was a boys club with a culture of promoting guys".
Women Used To Be In Charge
That's a phrase you hear a lot in men dominated fields such as technology: a boys club. Many will be surprised to hear that technology in the US was dominated by you guessed it WOMEN.
Yup, it was considered an alternative to secretarial work for women during WWII in the 1930's and the 1940's. Where did it all go downhill? Well Silicon Valley is to blame, men like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were the poster boys for the tech revolution in the 1980's, pop culture followed suit portraying the white male nerd in movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. This, combined with the rise of video game consoles marketed towards young boys, caused an uptick of men dominating the space.
What do we do now?
The struggle is constant for women fighting for a space in STEM, but with women of color making their own spaces, it is really up to the men to use their own space and make it comfortable for women. With non-profit organizations like Women Who Code, that help to empower women like Lakshmi and Qichen, we can make technology a fun career for women.
Support Other Women!
As a woman of color and entrepreneur, it's definitely hard for me to get my voice heard, but with the power of the internet and social media; putting up posts and enhancing websites is a way for me to show off my talent while getting paid! Women have coded so many great things, like the dating app Bustle, where women are in charge of sending the first message. With women starting up an average of 1,200 businesses a day in the United States, we need to get behind women entrepreneurs.
Whether it's showing your support through a tweet or a Facebook post, social media is a great way to get the word out about your business, and is quickly becoming more of a necessity than a website if you can believe it. If your social media pages are getting too much for you to handle then take a load off and send a quick email out to firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation. Your social media will never look better!