International Women’s Day (March 8th) is upon us again, and here at Tech.co, we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on the persisting inequality between men and women, not just within the tech industry, but in wider society and workplaces.
Despite “tremendous progress in education and the workplace during the past 50 years,” women are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. White men dominate the study of computer science and there’s a significant gender pay gap in all major technology companies, leading to biased product outcomes — such as sexist virtual assistants.
At a time when 41% of hiring processes interview men only, is it any wonder that even AI’s copy such discriminatory hiring principles? Plus, some 63% of the time, men are offered higher salaries than their female counterparts — at the same company in the same role. Overall, the tech industry has a 3% wage gap.
Statistics aside, what does this really mean for a woman working in the technology industry? Grace Garland, PR Director at the #1 tech company to work for in the UK is keenly aware of how her female identity affects her working life. Here’s her experience of a day in the life of a woman in tech:
It’s Monday. I wake up in my bed, in my house. The house whose bills come out of my bank account each month, where I hand sanded the floors but yet my name appears second, rearranged, on the monthly letters that confirm my mortgage payments went through.
I reach for my phone and pull it up by the pop socket – a clever invention we made to compensate for the fact it’s an inch too big for our hands, designed for his comfort – but costing us both the same.
I dress myself in clothes that are more expensive and worse quality than my husband’s. That are, by design, less comfortable and less practical.
I go to make a coffee and ask Google to play radio 4. She ignores me, because Google’s products are trained to respect men’s voices 70% more than mine.
I set out for the subway, for my commute to work. I wedge myself between two men whose elbows jut into my space and look around at the other women shrinking into their seats. I am filled with rage about this every day, but I say nothing.
I arrive at work and see my female colleagues in shawls and extra jumpers – protection against the fact that it’s five degrees too cold for us.
In meetings, I could be interrupted, my ideas repeated and discredited; I know I need to fight to be heard but I’m careful not to fight too much.
After work, I visit the theater and spend the entire interval in a queue of women hopping from one foot to the other and watch as the men dart in and out of the neighboring men's bathroom and head back to the bar.
I order an Uber home and I strap into the seatbelt knowing that if we crash I am 50% more likely to be hurt because the belt is designed to protect a man’s body and not mine.
I get dropped on the corner and walk the short trip home, keys wedged between my fingers.
This powerful illustration demonstrates just how badly we need change, in so many ways and areas. But how soon is soon enough? And what can we do to bring about change more quickly? From “blind” recruitment processes, to checking our own internal biases before we speak, there is plenty each of us can do to play our part.
The easiest action of all is to simply keep the conversation going regarding diversity and inclusion. The more we can keep these issues at the forefront of our public consciousness, the more likely actions will be taken to tackle such issues.