The other day my husband came home from work, put his bag down, sat next to me, and proceeded to take off his shoes. While untying his laces, he said, “I read an article today that said women in programming make the same amount of money as their male counterparts. ”
I hadn’t heard this yet, but looked up, thought about it and responded plainly, “That makes sense.”
The struggle to bridge the gender wage gap has been apparent since women entered the work force. Originally, women were regarded as more “fragile,” and thus, could not perform the menial labor that men could. Then, there was the 1950s “nuclear family” ideal. The idea of a woman as the primary breadwinner for her family was completely unheard of. Today, the issue has stuck pretty firmly to the commonly-cited 77-cent statistic.
For every $1 a man makes a woman will make $0.77.
The underlying issue, as unveiled by Harvard economist Claudia Goldin in her recent American Economic Review for 2014, is not one of pay or gender itself as much as an issue of time.
In her study, Goldin reveals that today the 77-cent stat is alive due to companies glorifying those workers who spend long hours in the office and who spend particular hours in the office.
By placing value on office time — employers create an inability for those mothers with families or planning to start a family to be set up properly for promotions and further advancement to their male counterparts.
Many companies have made the effort to respond to these incentivized long office hours by attempting to give employees more autonomy. (1)Allowing them to create a more flexible work schedules. (2)Providing options to telecommute to work instead of requiring strict office hours and (3)putting more effort on the quality of employee work.
How is programming different?
A recent survey by Dice — a 22-year-old technology website that specializes in tech jobs reported that the gender wage gap for equal roles has disappeared in the tech field.
When controlling education and experience to parallel job levels the wage gap has disappeared. In a statement by Dice senior vice president Tom Silver he said,
“When it comes to technology employment, it’s a skills-driven marketplace.”
So, if it’s such a skills driven market place — Why are more women not pursuing leadership roles in tech fields?
You don’t have to be a genius to understand programming. You just need time to learn the syntax, know a little math, and understand how the internet works — but traditionally, tech has been a bit of a boy’s club.
Perpetuated by society, the stereotype that women don’t belong in the tech industry is apparent in television, academia and common jargon (e.g. “IT guy”).
To the average woman, tech means a whole bunch of nerds working with zeros and ones to fix computers — and it sounds boring when you put it that way — but it turns out that programming is something that many women enjoy.
The struggle isn’t getting in — it’s fitting in. Breaking into a male-dominated field takes women who aren’t afraid of awkward situations. It’s not easy. Women in tech are routinely misunderstood, but leaders like Ciara Byrne, who are dedicated to the craft and willing to work through the gender issue for the love of tech can change that, in a recent interview, she writes:
Most people have good hearts and really DON’T want to offend. But when men feel terrified of offending the women they work with, it only contributes to our sense of isolation and inequality. If women can keep in mind that few people consciously want to exclude them, and if men can keep in mind that women feel excluded for most of their careers, it brings the emotional temperature down.
In any culture where there is a dominant gender, you’re going to encounter mixed signals. It takes leaders who aren’t afraid to get in the way, ask the difficult questions, and look past the mean, awkward or embarrassing situations to blaze a path for younger generations.
Younger women are entering the field and finding opportunity, but not without hesitation. Take this article from another young programmer who said in a recent post:
I often wonder why there aren’t more women in the technology field. I think the reasons are two-fold: (1) we’re scared of the learning curve and (2) we’re worried about fitting in.
It’s true that this image is still what comes to mind when we think of the typical tech professional. Yes, to women coming into this field, it can be disarming — but just know that in most cases, these guys are not out to get or disrespect you as a woman.
If you say something stupid, they might snicker and scoff, but they would do that with anyone else they work with. The truth is, most male tech professionals care significantly more about skill and doing the job right than the fact that you’re a woman.
Woman may have to deal with this more publicly, for now, but if this is the space you want to grow in, try not to let it get to you. They’ll show you the respect you deserve, but they need proof that you’re not just a woman in the space because the boss needed to fill a diversity quota.
It’s a wonderful step toward wage equality but I don’t think we’re there yet. If we women stop putting so much weight on the fact that we’re “women in tech,” our male compatriots will take us much more seriously. Instead, let’s spend more time learning and putting undeniable quality and skill into our work. Maybe then, other fields will catch on - stop putting so much weight on time and start focusing on making the work place a skills-driven culture.
Let’s keep closing that gap.
What do you think?