A few weeks ago I was in the audience at a conference hosted by Scotland IS and Skills Development Scotland about the future of tech in Scotland to address the digital skills crisis. As we all know there’s a worldwide concern regarding the poor representation of women in STEM fields and women in tech with many countries are implementing programmes to address this issue. As I was listening to the speaker detailing such initiatives and the obstacles they face in empowering women to pursue a career in tech, something struck me. In front of me there was a MAN talking about the obstacles and challenges him and other MEN face in trying to recruit women.
One of the main reasons for the lack of females in tech is a traditional mindset regarding gender roles and career choice. I couldn’t agree more with this statement, there’s no innate ability that is keeping women from having successful careers in tech, the only problem lies within our minds and our general approach to life. I started thinking about the main technological advances throughout history and how those women that managed to thrive and accomplish great things are so few in numbers. Why is that? I know that we only started bridging the education gap quite recently and that had a huge impact from a historical perspective, but is there something else that’s holding us back?
I strongly believe that women are perfectionists, we finish what we start and we never let anything be that isn’t just as we imagined. Although these are generally admirable traits I don’t think they’re the making of an inventor or a person that’s out there pushing the boundaries. Innovation is messy, it’s imperfect, trial and error, mostly error and it is so fast paced there’s never time to tidy things up and wrap them elegantly in a bow.
Until we start changing the way we educate girls, until we stop demanding perfect deliveries in all aspects of life from ourselves nothing will change. The books we read to them, the maniacal princesses that clean and sing and groom themselves for that one single kiss, those are their heroines. The impractical frilly, movement constricting clothes we dress them in since they’re too young to walk, all these help create that gender gap inducing mindset.
If we don’t start changing our mindset we’ll be too busy “having it all” obsessively looking for perfection or is this just a myth among executive women?