We are educated to believe there are specific things a woman can and cannot do. Engineering was always something for the men, they were the ones capable of understanding technical things and we were always told that we shouldn’t bother our pretty heads with this since most likely we will “not get it”.
When it came to the ideal profession for me, my parents clearly wanted something feminine, teacher, or doctor since that was fitted for our traditional culture. I even remember my grandfather always saying that women should be quieter and let the men talk since our role is not to decide or take lead.
From the beginning of my life, I was told that I should keep my head down and try to blend in, since women are made to be mothers, have an easy job, and take care of the house. While that might be a good fit for some, it was definitely not for me.
So I decided to take a different route and went to the Faculty of Computer Science. There were 30 girls in the 2012 promotion, there were at least 400 boys in the same year. But something odd did happen, most of the girls managed to graduate and only 140 boys. So women were indeed capable to learn tech and thrive in a domain led almost exclusively by men.
While in college I was told so many times that I will never be able to do much and that perhaps I could manage to find an easier job in a corporation. In 2012 when I got my first job, my fears were proven to be true, many companies were hiring girls only for the male colleagues to want to work in a place where they could see women around them. Also, many would meet their partners at work so from the few colleagues that I had, in a year half of them would be married and staying home moms.
Not to mention that all the foreign bosses would hit on the female employees whenever they would travel to our offices, but when wanting to go out, they would prefer to go on a smaller group including only the male employees.
Since then 8 years have passed and more and more companies started to fear being exposed by doing this type of maneuver. I see they are trying to encourage more women to join tech and they are trying to get females into leadership as well, but for most this is still linked with the fact that they want to look good and use it as a marketing strategy.
In the real world, we are still lacking females in tech, and especially in leadership, it is only then we will see a real shift in mindset and in the organizational culture.
Today I am working for one of the biggest companies in tech worldwide and we are still so few in the leadership field, not to mention in the upper management positions. I do have to acknowledge that from 2012 things have definitely changed and I am seeing a lot more cautious when it comes to sexual harassment and discrimination.
Unfortunately, in order to do better, we need more involvement and we need those new leaders to emerge. We cannot have a change overnight and we will not have a genuine change as long as it is still men who run the show.
Every now and then I still see my colleagues saying that they want women to obey and not be in a higher position than them. Or make rude comments about women who are able to afford luxury items. So the idea of the obeying women is not yet gone.
Education and a change in mindset are made in decays and unfortunately, one generation might not be able to adapt so we need to wait for the next. We live in a world where we see discrimination on so many levels and when people came out to talk about it, we dismiss it because it didn’t happen to us directly. It is often that we change our minds when we are the victims. So getting the women to step out and have a voice in tech is mandatory. The new generation needs to understand that there is no such thing as a domain exclusive for men, or a domain where they will not be allowed to be feminine. Growing a new generation of leaders both male and female in the mindset of equality is mandatory if we want to get to a point where there is not salary gap and no discrimination.