Reaching the Tipping Point for Women in Technology

Did you know that men originally dominated the secretarial field and it was not until the 1930s that women entered the profession in significant numbers?  Biology – an area of science in which 55% of bachelor’s degrees went to women in 1998 – only awarded 29% of bachelor’s to women in 1971.

It makes me wonder: what will help us reach the “Tipping Point”, that critical juncture at which we see the number of women in technology careers substantially increase? I think if every school were to create a small outreach campaign and have classroom strategies in place to retain women in technology the numbers would tip.  In fact, there is research showing that as more women enter and stay in a field, more follow, and that attitudes toward female students are key (Cohoon 2002).

What little things can we do to make a big difference so it’s no longer unusual to see women auto technicians or game developers or engineers?  I invite your comments below.

By the way, I was at a statewide community college conference in CA last week and, in separate conversations, two administrators from the same community college told me how much their three faculty members learned from our recent WomenTech Training.  In August they’ll be doing an in-service as a “flex” activity at their College using our Train-the-Trainer materials.

Now, if that could happen at every school, maybe we’d reach the tipping point a little quicker!   (FYI – our next training is June 28-29.  The early bird discount ends on April 30th.)

Legislation Introduced to Expand Women’s Access to High-Paying Jobs

Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) along with 40 of their colleagues, introduced H.R. 4830, the Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act-to fight gender inequity in the workplace and give low-income women a pathway out of poverty.

The press release includes stats which confirm our tipping point is not yet in sight: “Nontraditional jobs—those in which women comprise 25% or less of employees—pay 20-30% more than traditionally female jobs, but only 6.2% of women are employed in these occupations.” (Read Full Press Release; Read Fact Sheet)

Help Wanted

IWITTS is seeking an East Coast WomenTech Training Consultant to do our trainings onsite.  Preference given to those who have participated in our state or national WomenTech trainings and who head programs related to career and technical education.  Trainers will conduct approximately 3-6 one or two day trainings per year.  To apply, please send a cover letter with your resume to jobs at with WomenTech Trainer Application in the subject line.

2 Responses to “Reaching the Tipping Point for Women in Technology”

  1. Steve Walk  on March 28th, 2010

    The problem I see in the dearth of women in technology is that technology has grown as a male-only ecosystem. It is a male endeavor and dominated by all things male (or masculine) – the rewards systems, work organization, communications, social intercourse, etc, all masculine oriented. It ain’t the math, it’s the men (or boys)! This list can be written very long. The whole of, or bounded areas within, technology must be feminized for it to appeal, let alone be tolerable, for most females. The fairly ten percent or so of females we have seen in technology is a naturally occurring cross-over population, in the same way that a small percent of males have crossed into secretarial, nursing, elementary education, etc. I have some strong feminine personality traits – empathy, emotional intelligence, leadership based on exclusion rather than exclusion, for example – and I find that technology, in general with pockets to the contrary, a wasteland of linear, too often pointless human effort, where the goals are myopic: do better than yesterday, get attention today, and ignore tomorrow except to plan to do more of the same. Technology, as it is today, is a contact sport with a whole lot of men pumping intellectual iron for bigger mental muscles for the control of other males and dominance over nature (the feminine!). Until that changes, women will go elsewhere. And they should, lest they become like the men. But, then again, if they CAN change the ecosystem….

  2. Judy Hawthorn  on March 23rd, 2010

    I believe sharing the excitement of Technology Education to young girls helps them decide that becoming an engineer, technician, space traveler, scientist or mechanic is a very realistic goal to reach. Pass on the love….it works!

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