Women in tech: The sexist culture blocking their progression

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Bloopark, an Apple app development agency based in Germany, has posted a job ad that panders to a male audience, and denigrates the role of females in the tech industry.

The job ad for a web development position included the statement “Your girlfriend doesn’t understand,” Business Insider reported.

The blunder is one of many examples of the tech industry’s side-effects of being male dominated.

Last year, a female game developer stated she is “groped” at every Game Developer Conference by other developers, with Apple accessories company Hyper featuring naked models in body paint at a trade show. Business Insider also reported on Yahoo hiring lap dancers for staff and two men at PlayHaven fired after making sexist remarks.

Earlier this month, LinkedIn pulled ads for developer network TopTal, after it deemed the female engineers featured in them to be too attractive to be engineers, News Ltd reported. LinkedIn stated that the ads were removed in error.

Although sexism appears to still be an issue in the tech industry, it does not engulf the entire field. “The clients that we typically work with tend to be part of the opposite ilk and actively take steps to be positive,” Andrew Cross, managing director at recruiting firm Ambition Technology, told Key Media.

Cross explained many larger tech companies are taking initiatives to ensure female hires, such as instructing recruiters to have 20% of the shortlisted applicants as women. He stated some organizations have “really taken a more aggressive approach to addressing the balance”.

Despite the glass ceiling hanging over the industry, many women are entering executive positions in tech companies, such as Rose Clements, HR director at Microsoft Australia, and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. The ability for women to enter into powerful roles in the tech industry doesn’t surprise Cross. “I think of the females in the IT sector I work with and almost 100% of them are very strong, driven, focused professionals who have had to fight to get where they got to,” he explained.

The increase in female C-suiters in the tech industry comes about as the entry-point into the industry also changes.

“We’re not seeing as many women come in through the service and help desk roles … where we do see a reasonably strong representation is in the creative space – online media development,” Cross stated. “That development space has typically been quite male dominated so to see that movement is quite good, and it has probably been supported by start-ups and more forwarding-thinking businesses.”

Page two: Unrealistic expectations and unhealthy competition

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  • Patti Pokorchak on 2013-08-21 7:48:44 AM

    This has got to be the worst misleading headline I've read in ages!!

    Having been a female tech pioneer (since 1971), I"ve never believed in sexism and I've worked in Germany in the 80s when discrimination was rampant. It didn't stop me from rising to the top in only 3 years.

    IMHO the glass ceiling only exists when it's an excuse for not succeeding. Women can go as high up the corporate ladder as they want- maybe they don't want to go as high as running the company. It's their choice.

    As for sexism, you only need to look at auto shows to know that tech shows are pretty mild in comparison. Sex always will sell stuff, no matter what.

  • Anne-Marie Harris on 2013-08-21 9:03:04 AM

    Oh please - just because you had a positive experience doesn't mean sexism doesn't exist! This is the same BS as when people say racism is over in the US because they have a black president.

    Sexism is real. It affects hundreds of thousands of people who don't have the advantages and tools you had. Instead of pretending it's all a lie, try using your position to facilitate change.

    Also, just being "better than x" isn't something to aim for. That mentality gets industries and companies stuck in anti-innovation ruts.

  • Patti Pokorchak on 2013-08-21 9:32:58 AM

    I've had positive experiences in about 15 countries where I"ve worked. And I've also had some shocking discriminatory events happen, but that is such a small % of my work experience, that I refuse to dwell on that.

    I always felt that the advantages of being female in a male world outweighed the disadvantages. Men suffer discrimination too; we all have something to bear. I don't think anyone is immune from discrimination.

    If you continue to focus on why you can't do something, then you've lost the opportunity to do something instead. Your choice. I choose to work hard and find the good in every situation. It's there, you only have to look for it instead of looking for excuses.

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