Although women making headway into the industry is positive, Amy Nguyen, a student and writer for Medium.com, stated that an onerous burden is placed on women in the tech industry to be “perfect”. Nguyen argued that while men are accepted as having strengths and weaknesses, women are expected to either excel in every aspect, or are considered worthless. “Being expected to be either a “perfect super-human” or a “girl who can’t code” puts a huge amount of pressure on women,” she stated.
Cross agreed with the sentiment. “I think there’s certainly a pressure on women to compete with their male counterparts in an industry that has history of over-supporting the male doctrine. There will always be good and bad resources.”
One path to improving the position of women in the tech industry that Cross sees actually involves moving away from highlighting the gender issue when talking about diversity.
“A lot of talk about workplace diversity has moved away from purely being about gender and has started to look at diversity of thought and people’s backgrounds,” he explained. “Look at the background, look at their whole career, their whole personality-type and what their career has given them, and then look at the experience that you get as a combined team.”
However, despite HR’s critical role in conquering this problem, Cross believes the solution lies in much broader initiatives.
“It is bigger than HR. It has to be an inbuilt element of a business’s culture that supports equal opportunity and balance for both gender bases,” he stated. “We need to encourage more females to come into the industry and if they are being scared off by this male dominated hype then that is a problem for us … until we have more candidates to choose from and employers have the capacity to assess ’best person for the job’ as opposed to ‘best male, best female’ then we are never going to change the majority feel of what this industry is about.”
Are there other industries where you see sexism as being rampant? Are you part of a tech company who is taking initiatives to increase its female workforce?