Working hours and social setup for jobs in technical fields demand different commitments directly affecting the socially defined role of the woman as nurturer.
Shazia Harris, a researcher in education, Pakistan, says, “My research indicates females will opt for fulltime jobs if the option is available even after marriage and even after having children, which was one of the major factors for losing professional female workforce, i.e., home responsibilities before career.”
Many women feel a lack of balance in their lives and this leads to guilt. Women have to give up something because, in dual-income families, women still do most of the “homework.”
This is not just about gender but also about money. The widest wage gap is between parents.
Fathers simply make a lot more than mothers do because men are simply paid more in the corporate world even if men and women hold the same jobs.
In California law, pregnancy itself is considered a disability with a note from your doctor.
In her book, ‘ What’s Holding You Back? ‘, Linda Austin says men tend to over-represent their abilities by 30-40 percent while women under-represent theirs by the same amount.
This works to a 60 to 80 percent gap between what a man and a woman with similar qualifications claim for themselves.
Though social perceptions are slowly changing, women in the technical workplace remain behind the scenes because they tend to underplay their contributions.
This is because “feminism” has become a bad word in today’s society. Many technical women are scared of being labeled “feminist.” They would rather ‘dumb down’ than take credit for their work.
The biggest barrier according to many technical women is that they often have to be more manlike than men. Marketing themselves as ‘women’ is generally ridiculed.
American author/poet, Dorothy Parker, said, “You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.” Why not create a new one?
We could begin by asking the same questions members of the civil rights movement did.
The issue of invisibility of women in technology is hovering between intent and execution. Industry leaders wish the issue would simply disappear instead of addressing it. Here, government advocacy and media can play an enormous role.
Technical workplaces need to change to allow fair competition for jobs and advancement for women whose strategies differ from the norm.
If the norm involves weekend ‘beer busts’, it’s not the female employee who needs to ‘loosen up’ but the employer who needs to identify appropriate venues for company meetings.
Femininity, the socially enforced model of female behavior, needs to be examined. One needs to teach our society to embrace diversity, to allow girls to be ‘technically’ ambitious without labeling them ‘tomboys’ and to allow boys to be sensitive without branding them ‘sissies’.
Generalizations based on myths shouldn’t be assumed of any man or used to discriminate against any woman.
While ignoring the contributions of an individual is bad, ignoring the contributions of a minority is appalling; ignoring the potential contributions of half the population is just plain stupid.