Women in Tech: Debugging the Gender Gap

Tech jobs are growing three times faster than our colleges are producing computer science graduates. By 2020, there will be one million unfilled software engineering jobs in the USA. Why then, considering this statistic – are there not enough women in tech.

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AmCham Estonia invited Robin Hauser from the US, director of the short film “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap” and Kristel Kruustük, Founder and CEO of Testlio to provide their experiences on why this is.

What’s keeping women out of tech?

Elizabeth Horst from the US Embassy opened the event with the remark “we are here because we are not there yet when it comes to gender equality and pay gap.”

 For example in the US 

  • 28% of women earn less than men
  • 40% of women believe it’s OK for men to make decisions 

In Estonia 

  • 28% of women earn less than their male counterparts

 Within the tech sector itself women are joining, but sadly leaving as well because they cannot handle the environment they are in citing harassment and lower pay as to why.

Why does this matter?

DSC_6893-viBecause tech is the future and determines our communities, economy and society. If women are not part of that, then they are not part of the future. To ensure equal opportunity for all, women in tech is not only women’s issue, but a men’s one too.

Robin’s film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015 and was inspired from her daughter, who was doing computer science at school. Her daughter was in a class with 35 other men and felt she did not belong in class. Robin was determined to do open our eyes as to why computer science is deemed a ‘male’ area of interest when it shouldn’t be.

After all we’re told you want a good job – know something about coding. But why then are we not encouraging women to study coding in school.

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Kristel’s story was different – after graduating from school in 2008 she had no idea what she wanted to do. She settled on learning programming and began as a software tester easily identifying where software could be improved. She loved it so much she founded the hugely successful company Testlio. Today the company has an even split between male and female software programmers and testers 

 

 

How can we debug the gender gap in tech? Questions asked:

Who inspired you in your life?

Both Robin and Kristel cite the influence of their parents to always encourage and motivate them to succeed. Kristel speaks candidly about the hardships her grandmother went through during the second world war – her determination inspired Kristel to motivate herself.

 Did you experience some version of the glass ceiling?

Both said no and avoided it by beginning their own businesses! 

What books inspire you?

Robin mentioned that “Why Gender Matters” is a great book to open your eyes.

Do you think women accept lower equality than men, and this is impacting real equality in the workplace?

Robin responded with that if women do, they are certainly reluctant to do so, and that it is the older generation that accept lesser equality.

Why is including women good for the tech industry?

Women are by default more emotional – tech needs more focus on the end users and this is where women are advantageous. Men tend to focus on analytical, women are more empathetic and intuitive.

Robin described the example of airbags, designed and created for the average man by men. When they were first installed they ended up injuring women and children as their body frames did not match the “average man.” If women had been involved in the process from the beginning – these injuries could have been avoided.  

 

David BaileyWritten by David Bailey
CEO 
of Blu Mint Digital
for AmCham Estonia.