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Ah, the Internet. Welcome to the new frontier. Today’s wild wild west. But instead of tumbleweeds and promises of gold, this frontier is coding and inventing gadgets that are straight out of sci-fi novels.
This is the tech industry, and it is a male-dominated world. We’ve heard the stats so often that they are not surprising anymore. The 2009 census reported that women make up only 24% of the workforce in STEM jobs. At major tech companies, only 15% of those in technical positions are women, and women only make up 22% of leadership roles. A shocking stat in 2013 showed that in Silicon Valley, men are earning 52–61% more than their female counterparts with the same level of educational attainment.
There are other industries that are also heavily dominated by males, sure. But there’s something different about the tech world that people seem to gloss over. We are, quite literally, determining what the future will look like for the entire world. We are creating the world our grandchildren will inhabit, one that will be wildly different than the one we live in today. It’s happening fast. And it cannot happen to its greatest potential unless women are present in this change.
I work for a woman-run tech company. It’s a thriving and scrappy startup in a world dominated by men. Nearly 80% of our core team is female, while most tech companies are the opposite. We are a rare case, that’s for certain. We want to disrupt an industry that’s known for disrupting industries. Why? Because disruption leads to permanent change. Here’s the thing, girls:
We need you.
We. Need. You.
The need for girls in the tech industry goes far beyond gender equality and bridging the wage gap. These are extremely important, and of course we want to provide opportunities and do the right thing. But the truth is, selfishly, we need your mind. Your brilliant, creative mind. Without it, the tech industry will never progress in the direction humanity needs it to go.
We need you:
We need your perspective.
Women make up half of the world’s population. HALF. And the technology we’re creating to better the lives of humanity should be equally focused on women’s perspectives, because women experience the world differently. Whoever runs the show in the tech world sets the tempo for where we go and what we create. We need more women who are observing, thinking, and tinkering to be involved in this era of great innovation. We need more, “but what about…” and, “did you consider this…” coming from you. You see things, you know things that men don’t. That’s awesome! We need your perspective and we need the boys’ perspective so we can create tech that benefits everyone. Without both, we’ve really only got half a product.
We need your dreams.
Big, small, quirky, wild, dangerous, simple…we need your dreams. Whatever keeps you up at night. Whatever makes that fire in your soul grow a little brighter.
And then, even more than your dreams, we need you to have the courage to start. Yes, it’s intimidating. With any big dream or project, there are about a thousand elements that you don’t know how to do. But here’s the thing: that doesn’t matter. If your drive is strong enough, you will find a way. You will find the right person to ask, the right tool, or the right website search to get you moving forward. You will chip away at the tiny problems and tasks on the way to your goal, and sometimes, it will feel like you are moving at a snail’s pace. The mountain ahead of you will seem big and scary. But keep at it, because one day you will look back and realize just how far you have come.
We need your voice.
Any time you step into a male-dominated world, you are going to feel like you don’t belong. Sometimes, men do it on purpose, and sometimes they don’t, but you are guaranteed to feel it. You need to jump in though, because without you, nothing will change.
We need your authentic voice. The more female voices we get in the mix, the more they are accepted and heard, the less they are scrutinized. We would love to get to a point where there are so many authentic female voices in the tech world that we don’t have to write these articles all the time. That the wage gap is a thing of the past. That women make up half the leadership roles in the world’s biggest tech companies. And we can only get there if you dive in and keep making your authentic voice heard.
This is where women can really transform the tech world. In most tech companies, a majority of the employees are men and the vibe and culture of those companies skew a certain way. In our unique woman-run company, however, we’re shifting everything on it’s head. Here’s how that changes things:
Instead of thriving on competition, we thrive on collaboration.
Instead of trying to win at all costs, we practice empathy.
Instead of focusing only on numbers, we obsess about how we are impacting the lives of our customers.
Women bring a unique sense of empathy to everything they do. We need your empathy because empathetic employees make empathetic companies. Empathetic companies create empathetic products and services. And those empathetic creations go on to better our world.
All of you girls out there who love computers, who want to create amazing technology, who are fascinated by the possibilities at your fingertips: band together. Lift each other up. See solutions, not dollar signs. Bring your big, scary dreams. We need you.
Let’s get on our covered wagon and head for the hills together! Let’s see what’s out there in this undiscovered, wild world, and let’s make it our own. It won’t be easy, because the best things never are. But it will be worth it. Years from now, when you’re flying your car to the new restaurant that’s serving sustainable, lab-grown food that contains a perfect balance of nutrients, when scary diseases have been eliminated, and when people around the globe have access to safe water, you’ll think to yourself:
I was a part of this.