Capable but hesitant—
Preventing hackers from gaining access to websites and sensitive information is an important business and service in the computer industry but the number of women joining the ranks is small compared to the number of males in this field.
Why? According to a story published by Reuters the main reason why women avoid computer related jobs is the geeky image these jobs are connected to—whether the stereotype is accurate or not.
And even in the center of technology-minded San Francisco and San Jose, the number of women who consider a career in the computer industry can still be improved upon.
Pizza, Mountain Dew, and video games
Programmers, computer hackers, and computer experts are sometimes depicted in films and the press as males who spend a good deal of time in front of computer monitors with open pizza boxes strewn around their keyboards, and empty cans of Mountain Dew littering their desks.
And when they’re not coding or working at their computers, they play video games.
This image is the main reason why women stay away from computer tech jobs such as cybersecurity—they don’t want to be labeled or seen as geeks.
Although women account for over half of the workforce population, only 25 percent are in information technology jobs, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology website.
The relatively small numbers in the technology field is not necessarily due to discrimination as much as the deliberate decision by women to avoid this career field.
Feeling like the odd man out
Lucinda Sanders, a former AT&T Bell Lab executive, related her experience in feeling isolated while heading up a data center for Western Electric. She also feels that as more women enter the computer security field, they will feel less conspicuous:
“I was often the only woman in the room, and often the only leader that was a woman in the room.
“It’s when gender is not the conversation anymore. It’s when you see enough people in the environment where you don’t feel peculiar.”
Although the typecast image of the pimply faced nerd is emblazoned on the minds of many via the media, this shouldn’t deter women from taking on computer jobs because certain fields, such as cybersecurity, is wide open to qualified individuals.
Richard George, a high-ranking official from the National Security Agency said:
“…we have to be more creative and more innovative. And you just aren’t going to get there if you are not going to recruit from half your population.”
So to women everywhere who are computer savvy, show the boys you’ve got what it takes to be as good or better than them in jobs related to tech.
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Written by: Frank Ling on Thursday, October 27, 2011 – 4:25 PM