Bear Witness

Women still underrepresented in tech

More often than not, STEM workplaces are largely male-dominated

Sarah Sabawi, Staff Writer

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STEM is one of the fastest growing industries of our current era, and with so much rapid progress being made, it would be fair to expect these workplaces to be progressive and inclusive. However, this is not the case for women in tech.

Ever since the 1990s, men have dominated STEM workplaces, while women have become increasingly underrepresented. According to Census, a government website, female computer workers have decreased from 34 to 27 percent since 1990.

“In the workplace, I was the only female doing my job,” said engineering teacher Barbara Schremp, referring to her job in tech marketing. “And in meetings, I would be in a room full of men. That never bothered me, but I know that it was something that is a deterrent.”

At Branham, women make up about 25 percent of the Robotics Club. Girls Who Code, a club dedicated to teaching girls programming skills, has 5 members.

“Ms Schremp has told me that there are more girls in the upcoming engineering classes, but as of now, there are only two, and I am one of them,” said senior Anmol Dhaka, founder of Branham’s Girls Who Code club. “Which is what sparked me to start girls who code, because I hope that in the future, classes like AP Comp Sci and engineering will have more girls.”

Critics have said that this disparity could be because women have less interest in tech.

In an article by The Atlantic, gender-studies professor Janet Hyde postulates that “the gender STEM gap occurs not because girls can’t do science, but because they have other alternatives, based on their strengths in verbal skills.” However, the evidence points that it is more deeply rooted than that.

“I remember a presentation once where they said that most of the engineers right now are coming from parents who were engineers,” said Schremp. “We just look at the food chain of progeny of engineers, and we look at how many engineers we need, and we don’t have enough.”

The field has been largely dominated by the same demographic for almost 30 years now, leading to the homogeneity it has today. This demographic is white men, and according to a report by The Washington Post, they hold 53.5 percent of all tech jobs in the country.

This can deter girls from pursuing these fields. According to a survey by the Girl Scouts Research Institute, 81 percent of girls who express an interest in STEM lose interest by age 11.

The solution comes down to representation. People want to work in a place that has others like them, and the problem with tech is that women are scarce, making up less than 20 percent of the workforce.

“This problem will be fixed by showing young women that there are others like them in STEM fields, and just increasing the amount of women that go into STEM,” said Dhaka. “Especially targeting those that have shied away from it in the past.”

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Women still underrepresented in tech