Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple has been at the center of media in recent weeks on issues of mobile privacy as well as women in technology. In an exclusive interview with Mashable he asserted the important role of women in technology, citing the prominence of diversity in moving forward as a company. The article reported that a shocking 70% of Apple employees were male! The interview highlighted critical challenges that affect diversity in technology related careers. In light of this article, ensuring diversity in technology will require investments by technology companies and other sectors such as government in creating a technology interest amongst young females. Fostering technology interests starts from a young age where girls are motivated right from school to be part of the digital age. Furthermore an investment into graduate development programs which have mentoring support specifically designed to support a young female faced with challenges which affect women, can give females a hands on guidance into the field. This helps to then create the female role models that Tim talks about as a starting point of getting females into technology.
Marissa Mayer COO of yahoo also highlights the importance of dealing with the challenge during student’s studies, exposing students to this career before moving through their education as students would make wrong subject choices. She also mentions one vital issue on the stereotype perceptions of how a techy must behave and thus most females end up thinking that this culture or perceived look and behaviour is not for them. Known as a demanding and difficult path, requiring sleepless nights of coding, most young girls end up loosing interest in it. This is also as a result of the lack of exposure to the diverse strands that exist in the technology industry. Furthermore workplace environments also often don't support employees or females with families by offering facilities such as onsite nurseries and similar incentives, putting women off perceived demanding career paths and roles.
While this article only scraps the surface on the challenges that females face in technology and tech leadership, Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook gives an interesting take on the issue, summing up some of the fundamental challenges in her TED talk by reflecting on the reasons why women are often not at the forefront of what are deemed as demanding careers as well as leadership roles.
*Image courtesy of SOMMAI at FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of SOMMAI at FreeDigitalPhotos.net