Discussions have been had on breaking gender biases and several of them stress the misrepresentation of women in workplaces, public offices and mistreatment of many in their own homes. These discussions however won’t be complete without mentioning tech; the now and the future. Now, let’s talk about female inclusivity in tech related fields.
Tech, which is a relatively new industry, is not different in the representation of women in the workplace. From venture capitalists to founders and workers, men have a higher percentage. In fact, women like Eloho and Odun Eweniyi had to create a fund that caters only to startups that have at least one female founder in order to balance the representation.
Inclusivity in Tech, hashtag ‘Tech bros”
In truth, if women’s representation is overlooked as early as now in 2022, by 2100, the tech industry would also be completely filled with men only. In the meantime, although women are being included in the industry, there’s still a huge gap to be closed. Software engineering, cyber security and some other coding-related jobs are often associated with men such that they even call them ‘tech bros’.
How are women in this industry taking it? How are they climbing the ladder? What challenges do they face as they are in an industry where men are much more than women?
Conversations with Temisan and Ifeoluwa shed more light on this.
Temisan is a software engineer who works in a startup; while Ifeoluwa is a 17 year old graphic designer who also works in an organization.
What challenges do they face as minorities?
Temisan, daily, has to prove herself to people. It’s tiring, she says. “See, before I even got the job, I sweated. You see all those organizations that celebrated women during IWD, they are gender biased in their selection of work candidates. Most of my applications were rejected because I’m female. They’d see applications, love it but once they schedule meetings with me and notice that I’m female, their faces scrunch in disapproval. I don’t just get it. I’m female, yes but I’m better at the job than some of my males counterparts.”
Although Temisan got her job recently, she wishes she works independently already.
She explains, “I work amidst men so there are constant snide comments. It’s not blatant but it’s there. I feel it everytime I ask for assistance or need their cooperation on something. And there’s also the whole reactions from family and acquaintances. They’re like, ‘oh, you code. I didn’t know women could code o’. You didn’t know women could code? It’s the twenty-first century fgs.”
On the other hand, Ifeoluwa, who works in an environment where the ratio of women to men is 3:10, has a mixed reaction to this discussion. On feelings about working in a gender-imbalanced environment, she says,
“It is an interesting but crazy ride and sometimes we get appreciated, but other times, some people don’t just rate you at all. I’ve been paid more than my service because I’m female. Also, I’ve been slapped and talked down to based on the fact that I’m also female.”
One would wonder, why would anyone be treated horribly because of their gender. She therefore goes on to narrate an incident of a male customer who slapped her because of a disagreement and customers who downplay her ability because she’s female. They say words like, “you’re a woman, are you sure the design would be good”, or “for a female you’re doing just well”.
As though the mistreatment from customers isn’t enough, Ifeoluwa says she’s had rough encounters with about two male colleagues as well. One went as far as saying, “you’re an underage working in an organization like this and graphics needs ‘male knowledge’”
What solutions are there?
For some like Ifeoluwa who believes her age, degree, are the causes of discrimination at her workplace, leaving is a solution. Ifeoluwa says, “I’d be leaving the organization in three months to prepare for university. Maybe if I finally have a B.Sc degree, I’d be accorded respect.”
However for others like Temisan who has a B.Sc and software engineering skills but are still mistreated because of her gender, what should be their own solution?
First, acknowledging that there are gender biases. Second, teaching the next generation to do better. Third, balancing gender representation at workplaces. And the last solution is formulating policies that enable women to be seen and heard.
Article written by Sola Tales