Danielle White, '23
Technology is growing at a fast rate in US industries, and it plays a crucial role in the economy, both inside and outside of the US. Personally, it feels impossible to imagine myself in any position in technology. I feel underqualified to be a woman in technology--especially as an African American--unless I perfect every assignment, ace every test, and go above and beyond my male peers to feel “worthy”. I often ask myself whether I can prove that I’m smart enough to deserve a role or position in Information Technology (IT). Unfortunately, I am not alone with this mindset. I'll frequently hear my peers feeling defeated if they don’t pick up on something as fast as boys do, or if they aren't moving as fast as their male counterparts. Young women are often too dispirited to even try technology branches because the idea feels so far-fetched.
The underrepresentation of women in tech generally stems from a lack of female mentors. It’s easier to follow in the footsteps of someone you admire than trailblazing on your own, but the lack of women in STEM almost ruins the possibility of young women being able to obtain high positions in technology. Role models are crucial to generating interest in tech careers--with more women in high-tech roles, far more little girls will be inspired to try something in a male-dominated career. If there were female mentors in IT paving the way for young women to follow in their footsteps, we would not feel disheartened about having interest in technology. Being one of the only girls in tech clubs, classes, camps, or programs is unbelievably discouraging and isolating, especially when I realize that the higher up I go in technology, the fewer women there are. Even as a teenager, it's hard for me to feel like I belong in a tech field because of the immense underrepresentation in our society. I can only imagine how younger girls must feel, especially at co-ed schools.
In our society, there is too much talk about what other women should do to lessen the gender gap in technology, when the focus should be on what we, as young women, will do. Pushing for gender equality in technology has become basically word of mouth; it’s almost a fairy tale that people constantly put out of reach. True gender equality is about action: taking higher positions as women, being confident in our skills, encouraging other women to take roles instead of viewing them as competition. Of course, gender inequality is not the only issue in the technological world, but it’s one that we can solve here at NCS. If you were asked to name someone who has made an impact in computer science or technology, you’d probably think of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or another man; that’s what hurts us, and it’s what discourages so many young women who look forward to being in IT. Someone must pave the way for young women in technology, and our generation has the ability and resources to do it. If we start now, we can create more role models for children to admire and give rise to the next generation of women in technology.
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