Where are the Women in Tech?


While catching up on my tech news this morning, I came across a very interesting story that sparked a little debate in my household.  In short, a woman was fired because she called out a few guys on Twitter — they were at a tech show she was attending and joked about “big dongles.” I’m not going to share my opinion, because it’s such a sensitive subject. But, it begs the bigger question — is this the reason more women aren’t in tech?  Do a few crude males and articles like this push women out?  Or are women just not as drawn to tech jobs as men are?

Thinking back to college, a lot of my female friends were going to school for nursing, teaching, marketing, etc.  While my male friends went to school for computer science, engineering, architecture.  Is it societal norms or are our gender roles assigned before we’re even born?

I , myself, started as a Fashion Merchandising major (because it sounded cool), quickly became bored with it and switched to Marketing.  While taking a required computer course, I fell in love with programming and decided to obtain a minor in Computer Information Systems.  It was challenging and interesting, and I’m still strongly considering getting a Master’s Degree in Computer Information Systems.

But unfortunately, it feels like I’m not the norm.

I know this post is more about questions than answers but I really want to know: where are the women in tech?

Share your thoughts below.

3 thoughts on “Where are the Women in Tech?

  1. I gotta comment on “Big Dongles”. I know a little of this story and let me just say this: if you cannot handle hearing about “big dongles” in a male dominated industry, then you need to beat it (no pun intended). This same sentiment goes for men in female dominated industries who can’t handle hearing about maxi pads and yeast infections. As long as you’re not threatening me with your dongle, I could care less. Whether it is professional or not is a whole other story. A lot of times, a company’s culture is what dictates the acceptance of these ummm deviations from professionalism. Culture, culture, culture- you either fit in or you don’t.
    Women in tech: I think the reason you do not find as many women in tech is because tech is very logical and women tend to have their natural talents stored in other areas. When I worked in tech, I was only one of two women in my 40-person shop. We had to test into this field and the tests were highly based in logic. A lot of women tested; very few passed. Things like troubleshooting, anything to do with schematics, and technical principles and theory require a straight arrow approach. It is not difficult, but “masculine” thinking tends to have an edge. I find that women who have a proclivity for tech tend to think differently, in general, from other women.
    “Is it societal norms or are our gender roles assigned before we’re even born?” I’m not a geneticist, theorist or ethos, pathos, logos philosopher, but I think it is a bit of both. I am only speaking from personal experience. I did not know that I was technologically or mechanically inclined until I was tested, did well, and placed in the top of my transistor theory class; however, I always approached life in a logical way. To me, this means that I was born with a trait that was not nurtured when I was a child. Why would it be? Society gives girls Barbie dolls and boys Tonka trucks. In your own account, you kind of fell into the field after discovering that a, let’s say, “Feminine”, field did not do it for you. Look where you are now. That was a logical choice that many women may not have made, or maybe your logical tendencies guided you towards your true calling. Who knows? Just my opinion, though.

    1. Good points. Interesting that you touch on culture. Even though I don’t work in Silicon Valley, I know that culture at tech companies tend to be much more laid back and “tell it like it is”, than other organizations. With that, breeds a comfortability among co-workers, and if the majority of them are male — dongle jokes will ensue.

      As to whether or not men are more tech savvy then women, remains to be seen. You’re right — men are given K’nex, Legos and Tonka Trucks, while we’re raised to be mothers by being given dolls when we’re young.

      Great perspective. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I think it starts at home and continues in school. I never told my kids (and they’re still young) what they could or couldn’t be for Halloween – for example. I have a boy and a girl at home and I didn’t steer them one way or another. I made it clear that girls could be doctors and didn’t have to be nurses and vice versa. He could be a nurse if he wanted to. The same goes with colors, he can wear pink, like pink or whatever.

    Studies have shown that teacher play an important part in whether girls and boys focus on math and science. My personal experience has been that many male teachers didn’t think girls could handle math and science. In fact, my high school chemistry teacher actually said he would not teach girls because there was just no point. Imagine that! It happened.

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