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Women gaining greater presence in tech sector

Airbnb product manager, Anne Diaz, poses for EFE during an interview on March 7, 2019, at the company's facilities in San Francisco, California, United States. EPA-EFE / Marc Arcas

Airbnb product manager, Anne Diaz, poses for EFE during an interview on March 7, 2019, at the company’s facilities in San Francisco, California, United States. EPA-EFE / Marc Arcas

EFE

Women are still a minority in the technology industry, holding no more than 30 percent of all technical jobs in the United States, although a change in culture has been noted thanks to the Me Too movement, according to two women who work for successful Silicon Valley companies.

“I think it’s still not a situation of 100 percent equality, but in recent years the technology industry has changed a lot. Now women feel able to speak up, to express themselves, they’re empowered,” Gretel Perera, director of Public Relations and Marketing at Roku, told EFE.

“Specifically, the culture changed a lot as a result of the Me Too movement, which opened the door to having these kinds of conversations in the sector,” she said.

Perera, co-founder with Rocio Medina of the Latinas in Tech association, said that “Me Too has changed the mentalities of both women and men.”

“Women have gained self-confidence and men are willing to listen more. Nowadays there are many men who come to our events (Latinas in Tech) to listen and to learn,” she said.

Anne Diaz, who oversees research for the Trust product group at Airbnb, has also observed a change in recent years, especially in how “technology companies perceive diversity.”

“Those changes have allowed me, for example, to enjoy 16 weeks of maternity leave, which isn’t very common in the US,” she said.

Apart from the implementation of internal policies by each company, the scarce presence of women in the tech sector is also explained, to a great degree, by the numbers of graduates in computer science and engineering.

Data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology show that while 57 percent of university graduates in the US are women, only 18 percent of people with degrees in computing and information technology are female.

“It all starts at a very young age. When we grow up as girls, we don’t do so with the mentality that we can be engineers, but rather we assume that we’ll opt for more creative careers,” said Perera.

“In Silicon Valley, there’s the narrative of the young computer engineer who’s a genius and starts his company in his garage, a narrative that’s partly justified because it’s what’s happened in many cases, but at the same time it’s seen as the only possible pathway to leadership,” Diaz said.

“As an industry, we must accept that leadership manifests itself in many different ways and that the contribution of different views achieved with diversity is key. The expectations we have about who should be the leaders of the tech world must be modified,” she said.


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