Discussing the topic of Women in the IT industry can be a touchy subject, especially with the fairer sex heavily underrepresented. Looking at various articles written and the information derived from them I’ve found there are a number of varying factors behind this trend.
Not enough women are choosing to pursue a technology related career. Women need to be exposed to the benefits and interesting career opportunities that are available to them should they choose to go down the technology career path from a much earlier age.
From the graphic below taken from www.forbes.com you can see from childhood the number of girls interested in a technology career is considerably less than their male counterparts. This number does not improve much throughout a female’s education and career.
Girls need to be introduced to the different areas of IT they can specialise in from coding to designing to gaming from an early age. Having female speakers from the IT industry come into schools and arrange talks about having a career in IT. We need to show girls that the IT playground is not just for the boys, girls can play too.
Depending on which part of the IT industry you look at female and male salaries vary. In the gaming industry depending on the role, ie Programmer, Designer, Animator, there can be significant salary differences with audio developers earning at least 65% more than their female colleagues.
Whereas, a female programmer earns more than their male counterpart.
These figures do not take into account the number of women in that sector, number of years’ experience and education of the individuals who took part in this study.
According to a study carried out by a USA job board did take into account the number of years’ experience, the role and education of an individual, the IT gender salary gap is closing. It is all good and well that the salary gap is closing, but the gender gap hasn’t. There are still too few women pursuing a career in IT.
Sexism / Bullying
As we know the IT industry as a whole is still very male dominated. Could the intimidation of working in a majority male environment be putting women off working in a more technical / specialist role?
Last month it was reported how the company SendGrid fired their Developer Evangelist, Adria Richards for outing two male individuals with accompanying pictures on Twitter whilst at PyCon. What had upset Adria Richards was a joke made by the two individuals that she deemed to be sexist. This resulted in a backlash from the online community. One of the men in question also lost their job over the whole incident.
Those who made the comments argue they were not being sexist or lewd in any way that their comments were made to sound as if they were by Adria Richards.
Sexist or not this example raises the question of sexism in the industry. The negative repercussions of Adria Richards actions from both men and women were surprising. She could have handled the situation differently, but decided to make a bold statement through the use of social media against regarding these two individuals and also raising the issue that if a woman is experiencing some form of sexual harassment in the work place or away of inappropriate behaviour towards women should they remain quiet, as after all it is ‘a mans world’?. Should she not have been so public, perhaps. Or should she have simply turned a blind eye and let ‘men be men’? One of the men ousted lost his job after further investigation was conducted by his company, could it be his company discovered he was in fact being derogatory or was this not an isolated incident?
This then brings us onto the gaming industry which is not only heavily male dominated but so are the games which are aimed at a male audience. We have seen articles where female gamers have received abuse from male gamers whilst playing a game. What male gamers and creators need to realise is that ‘women make up 47% of the gaming audience’. Highlighting negative attitudes from the gaming industry is alienating a large chunk of their audience. Last year the hash tag #1reasonwhy stemmed from a tweet posted by Luke Crane asking the question “why are there so few lady game creators?” one little hash tag kicked up a storm with both females and males tweeting their experiences and reason why the gaming industry is lacking in female creators.
Not all women are delicate wall flowers who aren’t interested in creating an action packed game. The latest Lara Croft game has a female lead writer, Rhianna Pratchett.
The gaming industry is once again under fire with the use of female dancers at the IGDA party at GDC in March 2013. Many people who attended the event have voiced their disapproval of the dancers and the purpose of having them there. This has led IGDA members resigning.
Though both women and men have highlighted how difficult it can be for women to enter the gaming industry.
These examples are in no way a reflection of all men in the IT industry. If anything companies are eager to attract more females and encourage them to progress in their careers. It is getting women to believe they have a future in IT to begin with.