It’s little news that technology is predominantly a male environment. Blame for the imbalance is typically placed on a low amount of natural interest by women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, with the actual experience of women who work in technology being a less frequently investigated possibility.
Speaking at a lecture hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London Sept. 20, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee called for an end to what he called a “stupid” male geek culture.
Berners-Lee argued that the geek culture alienated women, and repelled female programmers.
“If there were more women involved we could move towards interoperability. We have to change at every level,” said Berners-Lee.
“It’s a complex problem—we find bias against women by women. There are bits of male geek culture and engineer culture that are stupid. They should realize that they could be alienating people who are smarter and better engineers.”
A sense of alienation among female technology professionals has been echoed in other reports as well. In the “Women in Technology 2007” report published by WITI (Women in Technology International), a trade association, and Compel, a management consulting and research firm, female tech pros expressed mixed feelings about their companies’ climates, with only 52 percent believing that their organizations offered a favorable environment for women.
Other women expressed that their input and presence was less in demand than that of their male co-workers, with half (48 percent) feeling that their views were not as acknowledged or welcomed as those of their male counterparts. Forty four percent also expressed that that women in their company received fewer invitations to participate in and lead large projects.
Frances E. Allen, a former IBM fellow, told eWEEK in March 2007 that she was suspicious of the argument that women were not naturally inclined toward math and technology. She felt that the missing piece might have more to do with an uninviting workplace and university curriculum.
“The answer is in the field,” said Allen.