Have you ever been asked to reveal a part of your body by your boss?
Have you ever been smacked on a certain area of your body as a male walks past you in the office?
Have you previously been paid a lot less than your male colleagues who are not performing as well as you?
Some of you may be shocked.. Some may not. These questions are based on experiences females have gone through whilst working in a male dominated industry. My Part 2 blog is based around personal experiences as a woman in a technology industry, these experiences are my own and other women I have worked alongside. One thing that is promising is the ways are changing depending on how you enter the industry, after speaking to a female apprentice who is surrounded by males she hasn’t experienced any sexism and feels she is treated equal to her colleagues but highlighted that there is still an issue with women pursuing a career in IT as there hasn’t been another female apprentice for two years. It also depends on the organisation and their values and management, some organisations like risual promote women in technology and we are all treated equally whereas other organisation will push women down certain career paths based on ‘female job’ stigmas and refuse to pay men and women equally even if they are doing the same role (even if the female is outperforming the male).
Imagine being a woman walking into a meeting and you are surrounded by 10 men? It’s intimidating and all you think about is if they will take you seriously and trust your knowledge and opinion, over the recent years I have noticed a change in this and I now feel like my opinion and knowledge is trusted by anyone I work with and I have the confidence now to walk into a meeting room full of men and do not feel out of place or like I am worth less.
When i look back to my childhood there was always stigmas around chores that females and males should do and that continues into adult life, taking the bins out is always seen as a mans job and cooking and washing is seen as a woman’s job. When i was a child it always seemed that boys my age got away with not doing chores at home and allowed to get away with more than me, i always paid board from a working age whereas by partner was never made to pay anything and had all of his washing, cooking, packed lunches done for him. Maybe this is where it all starts? We learn from our parents and this is how it was always done, women were seen as the household keepers and men were the workers and that is still a stigma that exists now. One of the women i interviewed has two children and when she was pregnant with her first she went back to work after 5 months, other mothers she was friends with didn’t agree with this but why shouldn’t women go back when they have worked hard to build a career? If i choose to have children later on in life i do not feel like i could take 9/12 months out, things move too fast and i would feel like all the hard work i had put in to progress would be lost. Why is it the women have to stay off with a child? Why can’t men have more time off work if it makes more financial sense? Another stigma that causes issues and sees a lack of males in the childcare industry.
Another question i always seems to ask myself is what am i worth? After discussing this with other women i feel this is a trait we all carry. Men are more likely to go into interviews and demand their monetary value whereas women seem to shy away from it and feel like they are just thankful for the opportunity. Maybe having a lack of females in high powered jobs has something to do with the issues of knowing our worth, who can we aspire to be? How do we get there? There is also the well-known issue now in the media about the pay gaps between women and men in the same roles, imagine how disheartening it is to know you are outperforming your male colleague and bringing in six times more revenue than them, but you are paid 40% less and do not receive the same recognition. I am so glad this has been highlighted by the media and is being combated, i am lucky enough to work in an organisation where we are all treated equally, and gender do not come into anything we do, others are not so lucky.
We are starting to see this change with more females being promoted into roles that other females can aspire to, this is great for the younger generation and will hopefully inspire them to choose a STEM career path. It seems to be a slow burner though, after speaking to a former apprentice who is one of only two females in a team of over twenty she has not seen any new female colleagues for over 2 years, some schools are now encouraging the STEM programmes but there is still a long way to go to combat this issue. One thing to highlight after speaking to the former apprentice is that she came in as an equal to her colleagues so there was no variance between pay or career opportunities and she had two female managers which she feels inspires her to advance in her role and career.
In summary i think there are many factors that cause the issues with the lack of women in technology, some highlighted above and these need to be addressed. Parents, teachers and employers are all responsible for improving the stigmas around women in STEM careers, the sexism and equality is reducing rapidly and i have noticed a difference between companies i have worked for and how an individual is recruited into a company. I no longer worry about being the only female in a room and i feel the number of sexist comments is reducing and i now feel comfortable in my role and organisation being in the minority. Parents should be trying to equally distribute chores without the stigma of the types of tasks and push their children to follow whatever career path they want to without having to worry about if it’s a males job or a females job and the same goes for hobbies, who says a female shouldn’t play football or rugby and males shouldn’t do performing arts or dancing. We will never combat the gap and issue without starting from the beginning and the factors that sway our opinions and choices in life. I am enrolled as a STEM ambassador for that reason, i want to share my experiences and promote the great careers you can have in the ‘male dominated’ industries.