Every time we turn around, we are seeing more instances of women being accepted as equals. Gone are the days when it is assumed that a man is always a better choice for the job. And while generally women are still making less money on average then a man, you would be hard pressed to find a man that honestly believes that women are inferior to him. We are getting closer to realizing true equality between the sexes. Especially, when you compare where we stand today, with the situations of centuries past.
The only problem for the computer industry is that it seems that many people are not ready to accept a woman in the field
However, for all of our progress we still have one large glass ceiling left to break. The ceiling that covers the computer and Internet industry has proven to be made of some rather thick glass so far. The computer industry is a predominantly male field. Most of your programmers and technicians are male. As is the majority of web designers. Up until recent years, the spectrum has held little interest for most women. However, the number of women in these fields is steadily climbing. More women are becoming web designers, more are learning to code and more are building their own systems. Like the rest of the job market, we are seeing the balance between the sexes even out.
The only problem for the computer industry is that it seems that many people are not ready to accept a woman in the field. Because we are still the minority, it is sometimes difficult for us to be taken seriously about our craft. We are often second-guessed because it is believed that a woman cannot know as much as a man about RAM, or about Java. We find our advice and information to be ignored or brushed off, only to hear the same advice taken because it is given from a man.
As a female consumer, going into a computer supply store can bring back memories of purchasing a car or dealing with an auto mechanic. Many times the salesman will assume we are at a loss about what we are purchasing, when the opposite is true. A merchant will insist that I do not want the part I just bought, and that he knows what is better for my system. (Which is odd, since he has absolutely no experience with my system.)
Several women I know have had problems being taken seriously in their work places. They may be the heads of their departments, or the “lackeys”. They may build systems, monitor networks, or design sites for a large company. And several of these women say that they have frequently had troubles being taken seriously in their work. Or have had problems getting their co-workers to listen to what they are suggesting in the first place. Why is this? Most of the people that do this are not misogynists, nor would anyone think them to be biased under normal circumstances. Yet, many women will tell you that they often feel unwelcome in what is normally a male dominated field. And I believe that is a problem.
At this point in time, we are just not used to seeing women step out of school with computer degrees. In most places it is a rarity. However, women are slowly coming out in droves and we are going boldly into what was once uncharted territory for the more feminine sex.
On the Internet, the one place where sex should not matter, our skills can be ridiculed once it is discovered that a woman has designed a Web site. After all, there are far more personal web sites designed by women. And while we may not always like the sites created, it should be noted that it is far more likely for the average teenage girl to have a web site before a teenage boy. On the net women are a force to be reckoned with. And while it may be safe to assume that everyone on the other end of a chat screen is overweight, over 50, balding man, it is becoming far more likely that the persona that says they are female actually is.
The net and the computer industry are no longer the scary places to be walked tentatively into. We’ve got to grab the bull by the balls and make it known that we do know what we are talking about. But more then that we are going to have to show that we know it as well.
The computer and Internet industry isn’t just for men anymore. Women are finding places in it where they excel, and it is be far less likely for women to be assumed clueless when it comes to these more technical fields.