Over the years we have seen significant progress being made concerning females participating in technology-focused career paths, but, many individuals still perceive STEM industries as being a male-dominated environment with women remaining underrepresented.
This trend exists throughout various stages of development, starting from a young age. The participation gap often begins at secondary school, where the number of male students taking A-Level Technology exams outnumbers the amount of female students. Additionally, the percentage of women working in the UK in 2018 as IT Professionals and IT Technicians were 16% and 17% respectively, with only 5% of females working in leadership positions within the sector.
Why does this happen?
Women have long been associated with certain stereotypes regarding their capabilities to succeed in the technology field, which was seen as complicated and demanding; a job that females were seen as “unfit” and “unready” to face. The current gender gap can also be partially explained by “social belongingness,” or the idea that one would fit in better working in fields comprised mostly of their own gender, where they can identify themselves and better understand each other. Additionally, people generally pursue domains in which they are skilled and confident in, and tend to avoid those in which they believe they are not. Another major reason for the gender gap is the fact that there is a shortage of female role models in the technology industry compared to male role models. This creates a barrier for women, as it is difficult to find a relatable role model from whom they can aspire to emulate.