Breaking the Mold: Fostering Gender Diversity in Technology

I am a woman in technology. I would like to say that I have always wanted to be an engineer, since it would indicate that we've made a big step toward encouraging girls at a young age to seek professions in technology. However, I only found this passion in my senior year of high school when I started taking programming classes. Being a woman in ICT entails being part of a community of dynamic, bright, and accomplished women who are enhancing the standard of living in our society today and in the future.

Since 2011, the fourth Thursday of April has been International Girls in ICT Day. It was created by the International Telecommunication Union to promote girls' engagement in the technology field. Not only will women profit from their participation, but according to a McKinsey & Company analysis, the European Union's GDP might increase by up to 600 billion euros by 2027 if the proportion of women working in technology doubles. [1]

The first programmers were women. Ada Lovelace, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Hedy Lamarr, and Adele Goldberg are just some examples of outstanding women who changed the tech world. In 1967, the creator of the first computer language compiler, Grace Hopper, used gender stereotypes to encourage women to enter this field by saying that programming is "just like planning a dinner. Programming requires patience and the ability to handle detail. Women are 'naturals' at computer programming.".

Women have been regressing in computer science-related fields. There are several possible causes for this change, from aptitude exams that eliminated women by emphasizing stereotypically masculine attributes through the recession of the 1970s when programmers weren't in such high demand. [2] In 2021, women accounted for 19.1% of specialists in ICT. [3] It is hazardous that women represent 49.7% of the global population [4] while being so underrepresented in the technological sector.

We frequently misbelieve that algorithms and technology are impartial and fair when they are not since they are reliant on human data and considerations. If men develop them, technology will have the same prejudices and biases. Living in a world built around male data can even have deadly consequences. Women involved in incidents are almost 50% more likely to sustain severe injuries, since the safety features of cars don't consider women's body types.

When a product is developed in the tech industry without considering how it can affect men and women differently, it is called gender blindness. [5] Amazon created a machine learning program that could only recognize male candidates for a job, and Apple Card had an algorithm that gave men higher credit limits than women.

I want to highlight two statistics from the book "Brotopia – Breaking up the Boy's Club of Silicon Valley ." One study found that women's code on the open-source software community GitHub was approved more often than men's only if the gender of the coder was hidden." In another study, where men and women spoke the same slide presentations word for word without ever revealing themselves, investors backed male-voiced enterprises 60 percent more often than female-voiced ventures. Although I am aware that we still face discrimination, these points astonished me.

More women must take the lead in the world of ICT. With diversity, we provide personal well-being and allow for the construction of products that consider everyone, avoid discrimination, and offer more inclusive solutions to society. The inclusion of women in ICT will bring an increase in creativity and new ideas. It will also contribute to achieving Goal Number 5 of The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, linked to gender equality.

We need more than just an annual celebration. An essential step is a change in mentality. Cultural expectations that girls should choose careers more closely related to caring for others, for example, in medicine and teaching, perpetuate the idea that women are incapable of participating in the development of technology. In technology, we also care for people's needs. We create things that will improve people's quality of life in a variety of areas, and that is stimulating. Instead of being established to achieve quotas, it is simpler to incorporate these ideas into businesses once they become rooted in the culture. Companies also play an essential role, from early career inclusion to allowing equal career progression opportunities for all. We must focus on essential areas like mentoring, facilitating scholarships and training opportunities, and creating women's communities to empower women who will thrive and lead the digital revolution as programmers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.