Where Are the Women in Tech?

Update 7/5: Where are the women in tech? Being harassed. I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago before published date, not even including all of the allegations. Ugh.

56% of the workforce is made up of women, yet the tech world is still run by men. Only 25% of IT jobs are held by women, only 11% of executives at Fortune 500 Companies are women, and only 5% of tech startups were founded by women. Where are the women in tech?

I only first learned about tech and startups just before I graduated with my Bachelor’s. I feel like I’m constantly still learning the basics of IT, but it fascinates me and I only wish I had known more sooner. I think about teaching myself basic HTML when I was 13 on MySpace, and I wonder where I would be now if I had been encouraged to pursue that.

My opinions do not reflect that of my employer, but I do believe that I am grateful to work for an inclusive company. It’s not the best, but it’s one of the best regarding women’s equality. I’m grateful to be one of the few women working in tech, but there are some commonalities I see working at 1871, a hub for the Chicago tech ecosystem.

As a marketing professional, I find myself a bit out of place. Typically, a tech team consists of hackers (developers), hipsters (designers), and hustlers (business). While I identify as a hustler, I notice that I toe the line at my current position. The time is divided into Innovators and Engineers, and I’m not listed as or referred to as either. Still, from day one, my supervisors have encouraged me to speak up as a valid member of the team. It feels good to have those positive reinforcements when I do feel like I’m just one of the interns, even though two of the guys on the team are my age.

I’m thankful to have role models. I’m the only female analyst, but our team lead is a woman. She runs the ship, and everyone knows it. However, there is a vibe that the women are the serious, maternal figures and the men are just nerdy boys. I’m not the biggest fan of this, and I’ve seen this elsewhere too.

Similarly, there’s a pressure to dress a certain way. It might be self-imposed, but maybe not. Startup culture is casual (#blessed) but to what degree? I usually wear workout clothes or simple outfits without my hair or makeup done anyway (usually just got out of the shower after a fitness class), but some days, I do like dressing up. I would feel out of place if I did.

Some might say that women don’t have the same “work hard, play harder” mentally. However, from my experience in the office, women often work longer hours and are almost always the first and last ones in the office. It could be individual personalities, but I do feel a pressure to not arrive at 9 and leave at 5 on the dot.

The guys I work with are by far some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. However, they’re big mansplainers. Once, one guy tried to explain to me how much women’s bodies change during pregnancy. Um…? Alas, men are still treated like boys with their toys. It’s a very interesting dynamic.

The good part about tech for both sexes is that many people work from home. Whether you’re a mom or a dad, you’re able to spend more time with your kids, especially if they’re young. There is opportunity for more work-life balance, even if there are long hours in the home office. Parents can have their kids sit on their lap or play with Legos beside them. It’s good to know that parents don’t feel overly strained to spend time with their kids and pursue their

In middle school, 74 percent of girls express interest in STEM subjects, but when choosing a college major, just 0.4 percent of high school girls select computer science, according to Girls Who Code. I wish I had pursued coding when I was younger, and now I’ll encourage all boys and girls to learn how to code. It’s going to be the most important language of the future, and jobs will require it.

I hope that there will continue to be more women in tech, but for now, I’ll do my best to “represent the girls taking over the world.” That’s Beyonce, ICYMI.

++ Mary K



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