The technology industry, compared to other industries, have made great strides towards creating an inclusive work environment and pluralistic workplaces. But despite women like Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer and Virginia Rometty, the tech industry still remains a man-dominated field, according to this revelation by Leila Janah, a technology entrepreneur.
The problem, she says, is not about men always hitting on women (or vice versa) at technology conferences and meet ups, the problem is a sense of being invisible that most of the women in tech industry feel. It’s as if they don’t exist at all. Women are seen as wives and girlfriends.
She often speaks at various technology conferences and even when It’s she who is the speaker and the expert, if she is standing with a male, it is automatically assumed that he is the person to be talked to and she is just tagging along as wife, girlfriend or assistant.
Similarly, when men introduce their wives and girlfriends, they always say something like, “oh, and this is my wife, Mary.” without mentioning what Mary does and what are her educational and professional qualifications.
Leila hasn’t just been quietly observing the problem and feeling bad about it. She has been talking to people in the tech industry to know exactly why such an attitude manifests. The problem is less with younger people may be because the sort of environment they grow and work in.
But when she talks to the older generation of men they typically shrug off the problem saying that since most of the women are wives and girlfriends, there is nothing much to talk to them.
Women on the other hand, irrespective of how old or young they are, introduce their accompanying husbands/boyfriends/coworkers/friends in more equitable terms.
The problem doesn’t simply lie within the attitude of men. It also rests on women who need to be more assertive. The change needs to come at both ends of the spectrum.