Why The Tech Industry Remains Sexist

The global economy has changed its entire structure over the past few decades. Throughout this period of time, the system as a whole has shifted towards a more convenient, smart, and digital environment. With the social protests all around the world against climate change, for labor rights, and easy access to certain services for everyone, digital technology is becoming more and more crucial in tackling many of these issues. This is why we have seen a significant expansion of the digital technology sector which now is one of the biggest contributors to economies around the world.

To put it in simple terms, digital technologies are now essential. There is no sector remaining that has not gone through a certain level of digital transformation, introducing smart devices, and investing heavily in digital adoption. For instance, one of the world's most important industries, the financial sector has become almost completely digital. From commercial banks to insurance companies and other financial institutions, every business nowadays uses the digital web or mobile platforms to provide more convenient and highly-streamlined services.

Even some of the most traditional and luxurious sectors, like gambling, have gone digital. Today, the number of online casinos is soaring at a rapid rate, overtaking old-style luxury venues that have always been reserved for the rich only. One of the leading online gambling operators Spinia has stated that the digital gambling industry will soon completely overtake the traditional one. Importantly, this niche is expected to make an impact on how people perceive gambling and gender roles within it.

The customers have gotten used to the digital era. Can anyone remember visiting an actual, physical branch of a commercial bank to perform a financial operation? The answer is here - no one does. Today, opening your mobile banking application is enough to transfer money to the other side of the world in a matter of seconds. Need a quick loan? Your mobile app can do that as well. However, the fact that we do not meet with people face to face, does not essentially mean that the industry runs without humans and their hard work.

The rise of the highly-skilled tech workers (and sexism along with it)

In the era of technology, people behind our beloved smart devices, software, and hardware are extremely highly-valued and not without a reason. Innovation and novelty amaze us on a daily basis, from Tesla's driverless electric cars to Microsoft's new digital solutions. However, not many people are interested in what the demographics of this rapidly growing industry look like. Who are the people behind our smartphones, laptops, and even smart TVs? Are there women writing codes and designing our devices? The answer is not as easy to have, considering that the vast majority of major tech companies are quite discreet with their workforce, except for a few high-ranking employees that show themselves at conferences and meetings for the media and the public. Yet, the reality is quite the opposite of what we are being shown by them. In reality, women are not as involved in the tech industry as diversity campaigns promote to be. BAME women are even less likely to get a job at Tesla or Google. So what is the issue? And has anything been done to address it?

First off, it is important to note that in terms of education, there have been some changes throughout recent years. Universities started offering more spots for motivated women and girls, particularly to those from less fortunate backgrounds. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is the leading field for future tech employees. However, whilst women are more than 57% of Bachelor's degree recipients in the United States, they just make up over 30% of STEM degrees' graduates. Once again, the fact that the STEM involvement of women at the educational level has increased in worth noting.

However, despite the positive change in higher education institutions, the pattern is drastically different in companies. Businesses that pose themselves as accepting, diverse, and innovative are not always, or rather most of the time, fair.

In 2017, the influential magazine "New Yorker" published a story of a young woman AJ Vandermeyden who got a job at Tesla after great efforts of meeting with a team manager. She was amazed by the work immediately. After all, working for a charismatic boss that Elon Musk is could be quite desirable. According to Musk himself, at least how he used to say, Tesla is a meritocracy. Everyone wants to be treated fairly and that is why Vandermeyden was extremely excited to join the team.

After months of work, she was transferred to the other department. In a team of 8, she was the only woman. Catcalling, harassment, and sexist jokes were a daily reality for her and a few other female employees at the Tesla factory where Vandermeyden worked. After a few months in the new department, Vandermeyden learned that despite working hard and achieving similar, if not better results as her male coworkers, she was earning less than them. Besides, many of her male colleagues had been promoted prior to that while Vandermeyden remained in the same position with lower pay. After extensive communication with her boss's boss, who naturally was a male, her meeting with him got canceled very last minute. Finally, she got an email that for a promotion, she would have to double the production in a period of one year. This was an unimaginable task for anyone on the team. Vandermeyden realized that she was being set up to eventually either give up her position or get fired for not working appropriately.

This is just one example of a woman employed in a tech company, especially one of the biggest and most celebrated ones. The truth is that meritocracy at such companies is just for the men. They can achieve their dreams with hard work while women are eternally stuck on the waitlist, queued up to eventually get a slight pay rise after years of service.

Another major case was linked to Google. In 2014, one of Google's female employees created a voluntary spreadsheet. Women and men were able to voluntarily fill it in with the amount of salary and bonuses. The New York Times acquired a copy of the spreadsheet to find out that women were getting paid less at more than 5 different levels of position. Lawsuits were brought against Google and according to the megacorporation, they have been working hard to change things. However, the truth is that not much has changed ever since. Women still are a slight minority of this major company's employees, whilst still possibly earning less than men for the same work.

There is a need for immediate action and a consequent change. The tech industry has a particular importance today and its significance will only grow in the years to come. If we want to achieve equality, women should be involved in this sector of tomorrow. Possibly, the tech will become even more crucial in our daily lives and if women with different backgrounds are not a part of it, we will only continue to walk backward in terms of gender equality and women empowerment.

3 min read

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.


Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.

I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!

- The Armchair Psychologist

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