We’re all used to hearing about the big names in technology—Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell. One thing you might notice about those people, however: They’re all men. According to statistics from The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), “tech companies with more women on their management teams have a 34 percent higher return on investment” and “the presence of women on technical teams increases teams’ collective intelligence (problem-solving ability and creativity).”1 However, while women hold 56 percent of the jobs in the U.S. professional workforce, they hold only 25 percent of IT jobs; only 11 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female executives. So where the ladies at when it comes to technology?
Women's interest in tech fields seems to have peaked in the 1980s and has been on slow decline ever since, with fewer women graduating from U.S. colleges with computer science and other technology-related bachelor’s degrees. In 1980, more than 30 percent of women’s degrees were in computer and information sciences; in 2000, that percentage had dropped to a little more than 27.2 Unfortunately, much of this decline has been attributed to a lack of interest by (or encouragement of) female students.
To be certain, women are making strides in technology careers—doing their part both behind the scenes and right out at the front of the stage. They aren’t household names, most of them, but they are working hard in a male-dominated field. This new Gadchick series—Women 3.0—aims to bring the names of some of these women to light.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a look at women like Caterina Fake, founder of the websites Flickr and Hunch; Katherine Gunn, a champion video gamer and winner of season 2 of SyFy’s WCG Ultimate Gamer; Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group; Jessica Kahn, vice president of engineering at Disney; Dina Kaplan, a founder of the Web series platform Blip.tv; Marissa Mayer, vice president of Location and Local Services at Google; and Padmasree Warrior, chief technology officer of Cisco Systems. These women serve as examples and inspiration, both to the generations of women currently struggling to make a difference in tech fields and those girls who are still in school, dreaming of the day when they find themselves enjoying IT careers.
From the heads of IT companies to the top of the video game high scorer lists, women are making waves in the technology world. And doing it in style.