We hear time and time again when it comes to top positions in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, most women do not have enough female role models to encourage them in these interests. There is no question the numbers might be true. In the tech industry, it is still largely a good-old-boy’s club that makes it more difficult for women to enter and move up in a tech company.
Today, for instance, the inequality also extends to women in terms of pay for IT positions—women still earn only 86 cents to a man’s dollar. Patricia Arquette’s gender-wage gap speech during the Oscars a couple years ago continues to ignite debate about the right to equal pay for women, which is even more acute in the tech industry.
It is also true that many women are still largely taught from a young age what is and is not appropriate for a girl to do. Despite all the hurdles, women need to find a man or a woman who will support their efforts and let that person guide them and open the right doors. With the right leadership person, it really doesn’t matter about the gender-inequality, especially if a woman works harder than everybody else and just gets the job done. Simply, believe in yourself and remember there is a power you are given and there is a power you take, insists past honorees of Connected World’s Women of M2M.
Since 2013, Connected World has honored 42 leading women from around the world each year. But still the fact remains not enough women are capturing the top spot within corporate headquarters, as compared to men even in the IoT/M2M community. I have spent years interviewing both genders and while I applaud the achievements of women, there is still a big gap that exists between them.
Some of the women that make up our Women of M2M list are my heroes. These women inspire me and they have given me great wisdom. But we would remiss if we did not continue to address the issues that plague women. For instance, salary is still a deep concern. Women are making less than their male counterparts, as noted earlier and even less women are gaining the positions. This fact is bearing even more truth, as I try to find 42 leaders each year to complete the women to appear on the list.
According to the WEF (World Economic Forum) the gender gap looks like it won’t close until 2186. What’s more, U.S. has fallen to 45th when it comes to closing the gap, from its previous spot of 28. This means the U.S. is going in the opposite direction as compared to other countries despite having a one of the largest pools of highly skilled women. As a result, the U.S. is therefore falling terribly behind other countries in integrating women into the workforce.
Regardless of your political or social stance, the lack of women in technology positions should cause you some concern and should be a significant issue for everyone regardless of our gender. Look at this way, if the numbers are true, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computer science in the U.S. alone by 2020, and we will only have enough qualified college graduates to fill a mere 29% of those available jobs. And if the numbers are correct, of those college graduates, it is believed only 3% will be women.
It’s pretty astounding that we have an opportunity right in front of us to provide jobs to talented people and yet, we are not maximizing on the opportunity. If we don’t take the time out of our day to network, meet and greet these amazing women, what will our innovation and future look like? We have many women now who can fill the gap. The reason I host the Women of M2M dinner is for this very reason. To take the time out to meet just that one special person, perhaps two women. These are special women who know other women. But you can’t tap the workforce if deterred by pursuing something else.
We have a long road ahead of us and you all understand how serious the gender disparity exists in the U.S. It’s time to make changes. It’s time for women to wake up, step up, and to seek stronger change. There are biases and barriers that we need to overcome. But working together and not ignoring them is the first step to helping the next generation head in the right direction.