Women and Technology Today
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.
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.