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Gender diversity in tech and science

2021 has started with still many fields suffering a substantial gender disparity. Although there are many professional sectors where the gender ratio gets closer to 50-50, others fall behind and are still heavily burdened by stereotypes. For example, 80% of the tourism and hospitality industry employees are women. In contrast, business management and software development are still largely male-dominated industries, with only 20% of female representation for the latest.

Female input and vision in science and innovation have proven more than once to be undeniably crucial.

To give only one example, the first airbags ever deployed in the market engendered a surprisingly high number of severe injuries in women and children. The root cause is that the team responsible for designing airbags predominantly crash-tested their prototypes on male figures.

One can guess that there were not a lot of women in this team. This is one piece of evidence of why men and women should work side-by-side to make the best product possible, either in UX, engineering, or product design.

Women made many significant discoveries in the computer industry. And yet, while everyone knows about Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk, most would struggle to name one to three of their female counterparts. Indeed, most of them are rarely mentioned and sometimes not even recognized for their accomplishments. Among the most famous ones, we can name Ada Lovelace, who is known to be the pioneer in computer programming, or Margaret Hamilton, the software engineer that calculated Apollo 11 itinerary. Those inspiring geniuses improved our lifestyle and allowed considerable changes in the technology world for the better. Today, we have more and more modern-day heroines helping normalize women in male-dominated fields. For example, the EPFL is currently holding an exhibition named Femmes de Science showcasing women working at the world-renowned school.

Why is the tech industry so stereotypical?

Let’s dive into the reasons behind that phenomenon. It seems to go back to THE most common root cause in gender unequal opportunity: traditional standards for boys and girls. Whether it comes to education or the kind of toys we get our children, it appears that these details in a child’s life have a more significant impact on their future than we’d think. Indeed, many women working in the scientific and tech world mention this issue. Toys, but also the way we educate children, tend to have an impact on their choice of career in their adult life. Boys get Legos and games that are thought to be built up and create complex structures, whereas girls are gifted dolls and cooking tools.

It might seem shallow to mention this cliché sexist fact, but it does not make it less of a reality.

Following the same idea, parents often do not see their little girl studying mathematics, physics, or engineering. During her TEDx talk in 2019, Mona Badie showed a study’s results where parents were asked, “Which of the following careers do you think your child would be interested in?” Among the career categories, they could choose between Hair & Beauty, Education, Arts, Science, IT, Healthcare, Sports and Engineering.

Without surprise, parents of little boys were drawn mainly by scientific and tech careers and sports. We do not mean to discredit any other field as they all bring a unique value to our society. But don’t you think it is unfortunate that even parents sometimes unconsciously bias their children and put them in a certain box?

Gender diversity at Olympe

At Olympe, the gender ratio dramatically illustrates today’s reality in the tech industry. Out of 33 employees, there are only four women, among which the only one of them is part of the engineering team. We have to do much better. However, our team will never hire women for the sake of a ratio as they are worth much more than that.  For now, we are facing a significant shortage of feminine applications for our software development positions, which inevitably leads to the clear imbalance we have today within the company. The problem is bigger than us, but it does not mean that we should not do something about it.

Today, for International Women Day, we are taking the opportunity to raise awareness of the gender diversity issue. We encourage our industry to recognize and valorize the benefits of more diverse teams and make the conscious effort to break with the stereotypical bias. We will give more visibility in our content to inspiring women evolving in the tech and science industries. Our goal is to encourage young girls to dare following a career path they might not have thought, by increasing the examples they could identify with.

Do you value diversity and inclusivity? Head to our career page and take part!