Take Five: Will women get left out of tech jobs?
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Monica Eaton-Cardone is sounding an alarm: a future generation of women is at risk of getting left out of an ever-increasing supply of jobs in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. To some, this is due to a long-standing gender bias that has already made for an unwelcoming environment for women in these industries, which offer among the highest-paying jobs in the U.S. economy.
Eaton-Cardone, who has seen the tech industry up close, offers an alternative view. She is founder and CIO of Global Risk Technologies, better known by its U.S. counterpart, Chargebacks911. As she explains in the following Take Five interview, the chances for women to occupy and excel in STEM jobs is undermined by social perceptions that science, technology, engineering, and math are “male industries.”
IB: First of all, do you agree that there is little hope of reducing or eliminating the pay gap between men and women, however you define it or measure it, unless we do a better job diversifying workforces in the high-paying, STEM-related industries?
Eaton-Cardone: In order to realize the fastest results, yes. However, on a long-term basis, I do not believe this is a mandatory contingency, albeit a significant one. There are a large number of high-paying jobs in STEM-related industries. Passion, talent, persistence, and education are factors that contribute to wage earnings and advancement opportunities — above the consideration of one’s sex.
“I recently interviewed 18 people for a job as a software developer. Interestingly, not one applicant was a woman. Why?” — Monica Eaton-Cardone, founder and CIO, Global Risk Technologies
I believe that in order for us to level this equation and help bolster women’s earnings as a whole, we must target the issue at the source, cultivating a more equal interest from inception, not attempting to solve this problem by pushing acceptance from the top-down, applying pressure for management to recruit women in order to meet equality compliance. A bottom-up approach will be more effective.
We are living in a day and age where the success of a STEM organization, more than ever, is dependent upon its ability to evolve and innovate. Companies do not flourish in this space operating on static principles, they grow due to their ability to challenge rules of the past and consider that there is a better way. Bottom line: adopting a change of more women in these roles is not a far detour from their current thought patterns.
Men who excel in these industries are not just those who gained an education, they are those who discovered a talent and passion. These attributes are exploited in terms of financial gain. If women don’t learn more about STEM industries, they will not discover hidden talents and passions, despite their existence. The largest contributor to this gap is resolved with more education, not necessarily political education.
Man or women, individuals are hired based on the potential value they can bring to an organization and advance based on their abilities and competencies — their proven aptitude to continue to deliver results. I recently interviewed 18 people for a job as a software developer. Interestingly, not one applicant was a woman. Why?
IB: According to the Harvard Business Review, the number of women in STEM has actually decreased since 1991. What explains this more — a lack of interest among women in STEM careers, or unwelcoming cultural environment in male-dominated tech businesses? Or is it something else, or a combination of factors?
Eaton-Cardone: I believe this is due to a lacking interest in STEM careers, and a lacking education surrounding the different opportunities in the industry as a whole. Women, I believe, are not under the belief that these careers foster creative aspirations, provide avenues to help improve society, or allow flexible growth strategies for future advancement and development. There is a stereotype around many of these careers that may discourage their interest as well.