We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling, and many of us have experienced its consequences firsthand – seemingly invisible barriers preventing people from advancing to top positions in their careers. Women have been tirelessly working towards breaking the glass ceiling since before the term was coined in 1978, but what happens when the ceiling becomes a screen?
The tech world has been dominated by men since its early development, making it easy for advancements made by women to be overlooked. At Nexton, we wanted to honor this International Women’s Day by highlighting the legacies of some of those women whose work and dedication have begun paving the way to a shattered glass screen.
Strides through centuries
What do modern WiFi, Bluetooth, the first Apple Desktop, and the Common Business Oriented Language all have in common? They were all inspired or created by the work of women! The history of women in tech dates back to the 1700s and continues to be written today with a growing number of female tech professionals, founders, and CEOs.
Here are a few of the key events and influential people that highlighted the importance of women in tech from the 19th century to now:
The Bletchley Park codebreaking operation in WWII was composed of about 75% women
The first team of fully female computer programmers in 1945 known as “the ENIAC girls” whose work revolutionized computer programming
“The mother of Wi-Fi” Hedy Lamar, who invented frequency hopping technology in 1942
Susan Kare, the graphic designer responsible for Apple’s signature graphics
Angelica Ross, founder of Trans Tech Social Enterprises
Mira Murati, creator of ChatGPT and CTO at OpenAI
Despite all the advancements made and the growing international conversations about gender diversity in tech; women are still underrepresented, underpaid, and often discriminated against in the tech industry. The 21st century is categorized as both an uphill battle for women in tech as well as a turning point in the fight for gender equality.
So how can companies make the tech world a more inclusive place?
The roads left to be paved: what companies can do
We know Nexton is not alone in thinking gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping in tech are way past due, but thoughts mean nothing if not backed by actions. There’s still a lot of work to do; some roads to be dug, some paved, and others to continue trudging along!
One of the most prevailing issues women working in tech come across is the lack of mentors and leaders with similar experience in their fields. The underrepresentation women face in the tech industry might not sound like a big deal, but it’s hugely important in networking and combating gender bias within a company. One way companies can make sure to show diversity in mentorship roles by including people of all genders and backgrounds during onboarding processes. Sounds simple, but it makes a difference!
Salary disparity is a well-known issue that’s been talked about for nearly as long as it’s remained stable –this is not where we want to be seeing stability in the economy! It’s estimated that the gender pay gap hasn’t fluctuated significantly in 20 years in the U.S., and when it comes to the tech industry, the stats are no less alarming. In fact, the gender pay gap in the tech industry is up to 16% higher than averave. Though there are many theories surrounding the pay gap, when it comes down to it, the main way for it to be closed is by increasing representation at all levels. And circling back to our first point, representation matters!
Offering fair and competitive salaries to all team members is important –keep in mind that no single person’s time or work is more valuable than another. Make a point to ensure that equal wages are a standard in your company. And while pay is important, it’s also worthwhile to highlight benefits packages. Nexton has data on the benefits packages offered for remote workers, start by checking that out in our 2022 Comp Reports! Think about what you would want from your employer –healthcare? Mental health checks? Sick days? Though it can be tough for budgets to cover everybody’s needs, it is vital that all of your team members know you care about their wellbeing.
Finally, we’ve come to the all-too-well-known gender bias. We hear this term a lot –but what exactly does it mean in tech? While gender bias refers to favoritism or prejudice toward a particular gender, it takes many forms in the tech world. Some believe gender inequality is less likely to exist when people aren’t working in an office, but multiple surveys have shown that gender bias is still largely prevalent in remote work. This can look like gender-based harassment over Slack or email, inappropriate advances through video meetings, or dismissal of an opinion that is well-regarded when stated by a counterpart of the opposite sex.
Furthermore, many companies still lack many remote work policies that support gender inclusion. Does your company have a remote work harassment policy? What resources does your company offer to team members who are looking to report misconduct? How would your company support a person who reports gender-based harassment? These are all excellent questions to ask in a conversation with your HR department.
Remember, there is always room for improvement!
Not one blow, but many small victories
Though it’s clear there is a lot of work to be done by the tech industry and society at large, it cannot be argued that women have not made their mark on technology as we know it today.
Thanks to the work of the many who’ve gone unrecognized, unrepresented, and underpaid, the future of women in tech is looking brighter than ever. We need to continue encouraging girls and women to pursue their careers and fight for their worth and the value of their work.
After all, a single dent cannot shatter a screen –but the strength of many can, and will.
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