HOW ARE WOMEN REPRESENTED IN TECH COMPANIES?
Jill Edwards, Jacqueline Campos, Nate Dolezal, Anthony Gonzales
Dr. Crystal Edwards
Sociology 1010:003 Introductory Sociology
NOVEMBER 29, 2017
As Americans, we pride ourselves in our national ability to grow, excel, and innovate. Each day, men and women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field across the country bring new ideas and problem solving skills to everyday issues the help us progress and keep. Having said that, would it surprise you to know that in 2017, the United States ranks an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science (Heim). Even more alarming, women in STEM have historically been underrepresented and undervalued compared to their male counterparts. If the United States hopes to compete with the rest of the world powers in the field of STEM, it will first need to address the lack of females in the field. Only then, will we be able to push forward with once again becoming a leader in innovation.
The purpose of this paper is to review how women are represented in STEM and technology companies. In order to answer this question, the study gathered data across multiple university and business websites, analyzing the following themes: gender of leadership, presentation of people, and faculty statistics for the University of Nebraska Omaha when it comes to STEM. Ultimately, the goal is to show a connection between the themes, previously published scholarly journals, and local university and business websites.
Over the course of 13 weeks, the team collected data starting with scholarly journal articles. During this research, data was collected from original reports, blind peer reviewed studies utilizing scientific methods and approve collection methods. The team used online scholarly resources databases provided by the University of Nebraska Omaha Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library to find journals, articles, and data to help shape their themes and organize research questions. Next, the team conducted secondary data analysis in order to connect general sociology to the specific research questions identified during the initial collection. During this phase, data was collected using local business & university websites.
Over the course of this research paper the data collected showed several key data points:
- When it comes to businesses and leadership roles, women are underrepresented.
- Part of the gender gap can be attributed to early education and stereotyping at an early age.
- The majority of the local Omaha business websites failed to show a strong female presence, which made it difficult to determine how they are represented.
- Despite of earning roughly half of STEM doctorates in the United States, women have a very limited visibility among STEM faculty.
Based on the key finding above, the team focused on the themes of Gender of Leadership, Presentation of People, How Women are represented in STEM at local Universities, and how these themes tie into each other.
GENDER OF LEADERSHIP
Women are very underrepresented in STEM fields especially in leadership roles. Although the number of women in these work places has grown, men still outnumber women. Why? Early education and stereotyping. In some cases, women are leaders in the field, but the overall company is still male dominant.
From the data that was collected from Omaha tech companies, in most cases, the leaders and most employees are men, and only a selected few are women. On First National Technology Solutions’ website page, it showed that they had a female president, but the rest of the employees are male (5). While they do have a female president, everything else about the company is revolved around men. The rest of the leadership roles are male, and on their website they only show photographs of men. They don’t seem to actively include women in their company, which is strange considering their president is a female. (FNTS, 2017) On the other hand, Lutz is fairly equally represented by male and female employees on their website, although, of course men are still dominant. Their website shows a positive display of male vs. female within the company. (Lutz, 2017)
PRESENTATION OF PEOPLE
A lot of this gender gap has to do with early education and stereotyping at an early age. According to the article, Review of Gender Differences in Learning Styles, girls and boys in early education have different learning styles. What are they? (Kulturel-Konak) According to the article, Are More Women Studying Computer Science?, boys have more exposure to computers at a young age. To fix this, the lower education systems should broaden their teaching methods for a more neutral learning environment. Even stereotyping occurs at such a young age. Children as young as three years old associate computers with boys (Gadalla).
Computers are very helpful in finding information that a study may need. After looking through local tech companies’ websites, it is apparent that women in STEM are underrepresented. Their websites feature primarily all white men, with very few women being shown. There are a few companies, like the Five Nines Technology Group, for example, that do show a fairly equal amount of men and women on their websites. However, most websites show few to no male or female minorities. Overall, women are underrepresented on companies’ websites in the STEM field.
The majority of websites, including websites like the Scott Technology Center or the First National Technology Solutions, feature primarily white men on their website. They do not include very many women, and even fewer minorities of either men or women. Five Nines Technology Group, the Technology Association of Nebraska, Lutz, the Weitz Company, and Lamp Rynearson & Associates are different, however. They feature far more women and minorities on their websites compared to the others. While there is no page dedicated to women and how the companies support them in STEM, it is apparent that they are welcoming of women in their companies.
Looking back at what scholars have to say about women in STEM, it seems as if they agree: women are underrepresented in STEM fields. There is a lack of representation from women already in the field, or from women who have become successful in STEM fields. (Milgram) It also does not help that some people actively avoid using women for research purposes. In a Harvard study, they saw that dissertations from women are often never used or published. (Adam) Also, women are not as interested in STEM fields as much as men are (Cheryan), possibly because they do not see enough women in STEM fields.
WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION IN LOCAL UNIVERSITIES IN STEM
Now that the study has identified the lack of women in STEM leadership roles in local Omaha businesses, and how they are represented across numerous STEM business websites across the Omaha area, the study prompts the question, “How does the educational experiences of women in STEM connect with the previous themes?” In order to answer this question, the study aimed to gather, review, and assess the collection of qualitative data from local universities and compare it with previously completed studies, journals, and report. First, how are women represented in local universities faculty and staff?
According to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) 2017-2018 Fact Book (unomaha.edu), there are a total of 1,104 instructional faculty at the university, of which 520 are women. In addition, according to the 2016 full-time faculty by rank and gender statistics, the following is seen:
When it comes to the rank of professor, men outnumber women 2 to 1. (Factbook 2016)
When looking into the STEM field courses at UNO, the numbers drop in several of the top faculty ranks. When it comes to the STEM department, the university currently offers a total of 18 STEM courses, which, as of 2016, had 304 female instructors that are tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenured (unomaha.edu). Associate/Assistant Professor ratios account for less than half of UNO’s total, falling behind their male counterparts. The rank breakdown of the females are as follows:
Taking the two statistic charts above into consideration, it is seen that of the professors at UNO, females in STEM account for almost 50%. While female professors in STEM account for a large portion of the overall total, they are still behind male professors who outnumber them almost 2 to 1. Based on this data, it’s safe to conclude that female professors in STEM will have a positive impact on the female students in their STEM classes, promoting and growing the next generation of females in STEM, and contributing to the diversity amongst university faculty.
When the view is expanded to include national data, the study finds there is a clear documented lack of females in academics in the United States; specifically, in the STEM fields. Despite of earning roughly half of STEM doctorates in the United States, women have a very limited visibility among STEM faculty bodies and account for only 16% of full professorship and 23% tenure line positions in research extensive universities (NSF; Burrelli).
Based on the local and national research data the study found, it’s not surprising that of the 11 local technology businesses that was researched, only 4 had female directors or CEO’s listed on their websites. If females are underrepresented in universities, then it would make sense they would also be limited in their representation as leaders in businesses despite having the same educational and technical knowledge as their male counterparts.
CONCLUSION & ADDITIONAL RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS
Furthermore, there are a numerous amount of factors that could tell us why women are underrepresented in the field of STEM. Varying from student to student and company from company for their reasons, stereotyping from a young age and at the early stages of education are the roots as to why we are the way we are now. Giving reason and explanation as to why younger men are more exposed to technical fields as opposed to women. Trailing into why less women would study STEM in college than men. Then leading to a minimal amount of women being in the actual field. With a population of more men than women in the average company, it is likely that women are looked over or are stereotypically looked down upon or not valued as much as the man would be. Causing the woman to work twice as hard to just be seen as the average man. Women are then consequently not applauded for their achievements until years later when their story is finally shared. Evidently researchers could focus on the early stages of development and draw conclusions as to how that relates to someone views the field of STEM as a young adult.
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