Women and Technology Today

 

 

Been Jon-Woo earned the reputation of resourceful engineer and a dynamic leader in a male dominated industry. She has said that she felt she needed to work extra hard to succeed in this environment. Dr. Woo is considered a role model by her peers, who respect her ability to balance family and work. When other engineers ask her how they can balance family and work, Dr. Woo says,

“In the end, no one can live life for you… You have to work with your spouse, and find the most optimum way to balance or compromise between your career and family” (WITI 2006)
 

A rising trend, but is it enough? Courtesy of the Anita Borg Institute © The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

A rising trend, but is it enough? Courtesy of the Anita Borg Institute © The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

 

 

The tech industry is in dire need of role models like Been-Jon Woo. Since Dr. Woo has been working, the number of women engineers has doubled; but that’s just from 12% to 24% (State of Representation, 2005). A study released in 2001 showed that 60% of women in the tech industry would choose another profession if they were starting their careers fresh (Press Release, 2001).

 

 The statistics are more depressing when you look even a little deeper. Take the percentage of men vs. women in the tech field at the entry level. These jobs involve carrying out instructions under supervision. The split is 75% men and 25% women. Now look at jobs where the person is an individual contributor, like a junior level engineer, the split here is still about 75% men and 25% women (State of Representation, 2005). 

 

 Once you get to the level of a senior engineer, someone who mentors others and manages teams, the gap becomes canyon like, 5% women, 95% men. The top tier of executive level jobs is less diverse with only 3% women (State of Representation, 2005). Been-Jon Woo has occupied all four of those levels in her professional career.

 

 And if you don’t work in the tech industry? Chances are you use a device that Dr. Woo helped pioneer on a daily basis. In fact, there’s a good chance that the computer you’re reading this on has an Intel processor that she helped design. Even though only a handful of women work in the tech industry, many more use and purchase high tech products every day. In fact, women make 85% of all consumer purchases in the US (Maguire, 2005). In 2004, women made 64% of online purchases, and contributed to the majority of purchases from Best Buy (Gibbons, 2008).  Women use technology as often as men today, and it would seem they are controlling more and more of the buying power.

 

Current statistics indicate the existence of a glass ceiling. Courtesy of The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology © WITI 2006

Current statistics indicate the existence of a glass ceiling. Courtesy of The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology © WITI 2006

Incidentally, Europe has been trying to take advantage of role models like Dr. Woo lately. They’ve been encouraging tech businesses to set up job shadows for college women with successful females in industry, like Dr. Woo (Worthen, 2008). Consider that 1.5 million tech jobs are expected to be added to the US economy by 2012, and US colleges are expected to graduate only 50% of the qualified candidates for those jobs(State of Representation, 2005).  With employment statistics like this, the sooner we can decrease the gender gap in the tech world, the better.

 

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