At TechCrunch Europe’s Geek n Rolla event yesterday (21st April), there was a session that asked why there’s not more women at the forefront of tech start-ups?
A lively debate followed which was stimulated somewhat by Milo Yiannopoulos, tech blogger for the Daily Telegraph, who dismissed the debate as insulting to women.
His jist was that women may in fact be worse at tech than men and hence why they are under- represented. Searching for other reasons, such as the usual social and cultural ones, was approaching the problem from wrong angle.
In fact Milo wanted more research to find out how big the problem actually is, if there is one at all.
This was a controversial statement, I suspect some what deliberately so, and was ridiculed by the female panel (comprised of Cate Sevilla, founder of women lifestyle network BitchBuzz, user experience consultant Leisa Reichelt, Sophie Cox of Worldeka.com, Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson, of Huddle.net, and Nacera Benfedda, director of product at Viadeo.)
Of course, there can be no doubt that women are under-represented in the tech sector – an earlier post by Rebecca on this blog shows that women clearly make up less than a quarter of the workforce…..that’s under-representation on a massive scale.
But why? This is the thorny question.
Tech suffers from a poor image, it doesn’t have sex appeal etc, but with the growth of PC ownership, social networking and gaming amongst both girls and boys will, I think, confine this issue to the dustbin in time.
Whereas image may be less of barrier, other factors could be having a bigger bearing and career choices are often unwittingly restricted by students choice of A levels.
It is well know that there has been a massive growth in students taking humanities, whereas science and maths numbers have dwindled.
Maybe the battleground for the tech sector is in the school playground and not in the workplace?
Certainly this was the view of Cate Sevilla, who we interview on video. This interview will be posted on this blog soon.
So a final thought: technology needs to impress and enthuse all school kids (both girls and boys) that its a great and rewarding career and encourage them to sit the right A levels that will be useful to them at university. (And this advice is coming from a Geography graduate, so who the hell am I to preach!)