Has the fruitful Valley of Heart’s Delight turned into a barren land of undesirable men for women in tech?
The tech industry is generally viewed as an industry filled with nerdy computer science majors who code all day: all of them male. Because of this conception, women are dissuaded from joining such an environment. But women can bring important contributions to the tech community. And the tech industry is not the only one benefitting; women too can benefit from being in the tech industry. The big imbalance in gender ratio exposes women to a great number of men, giving them more options for a romantic relationship.
Because their scarcity has allowed women to set higher standards for men, women can be quite critical of their options. Thus, not all of their experiences with men are pleasant. One woman describes in an article her unpleasant experiences dating immature guys in the tech industry. Not much can be helped when a typical day at their office consists of nerf-gun fights, unlimited snacks, slides instead of elevators, and a virtually nonexistent dress code. Much of the tech industry is dominated by men and thus workers have very minimal interaction with females. Establishing relationships with women is a difficult feat that usually does not succeed.
Evolutionary psychologists can explain the discrepancy of men and women in various job positions due to the difference in biological characteristics between the genders. According to evolutionary psychologist Kanazawa, men have brains designed for systemizing, that is to say for analyzing and exploring (beneficial for careers in medical surgery, scientific research, and engineering). The adaptation of this brain type allowed men to invent and craft tools and weapons for hunting and/or for interpersonal violence. Men also tend to be more competitive; through evolution, men who were more competitive had better success in mate selection, outcompeting other men for limited resources to provide for the family. In contrast, women have brains designed for empathizing, for effectively discerning someone’s emotions and thoughts and reacting appropriately (advantageous for jobs in teaching, nursing, and management). This brain type was advantageous in the ancestral environment since it allowed women to effectively understand an infant’s needs and form friendships with others living in a different area. Women tend to be more nurturing, and as such tend to be less competitive and risk-taking. Because women generally have type E brains, are less risk-taking, less status-seeking, and less competitive, not as many women are in industries like tech, which require these traits to be successful. Many high paying jobs like those in the tech industry require lots of hours, relocation between cities, and competition for promotion, which would further conflict with a mother’s ultimate evolutionary role of devoting her energy towards her children.
However, there are exceptions: not all women are uncompetitive and not all have empathetic brains. It may be reasonable to assume that all women in the tech industry have type S brains. But the tech industry does not just have programming jobs. Many other positions in the tech industry are greatly benefitted by the employment of women, particularly in the management and customer service department. Because of their type E brains, women bring communication skills, empathy, and social awareness. They essentially save the men from being plastered to the screens, void of any human connection. In Kim Malone Scott’s novel Virtual Love (which is largely autobiographical and thus based on reality), Virginia lands a managerial job at Google, and has great success. She is not only able to effectively communicate with the engineers around her, but also to provide personal and social advice for her employees. Because Virginia is empathetic, her male and female employees go to Virginia to discuss their personal matters and not to other male co-workers. Virginia additionally comes up with bonding events for the team, and the Monday morning staff meetings she leads become much more personal and inviting. The feminine characteristics of Virginia were a welcome change that helped bring the team closer together, something that may not have happened if the manager were a typical male software engineer who got promoted.
Because women are so few in the tech industry, they have the luxury of raising their standards. In Virtual Love, Virginia has a wide variety of romantic options and thus has the ability to be nitpicky, looking beyond wealth and high status in men (the two primary characteristics that evolutionary psychologists claim women seek). Max, Virginia’s ex-boyfriend, is an incredibly prosperous manager of a hedge fund, who also happens to have pheromones that drive Virginia crazy. Caleb is a shepherd and cook at Google, a hottie with impeccable thighs. George is the director of Adsense, a generous man who can provide emotional support. If it were just about wealth, Virginia would have accepted Max’s proposal and chosen him over the others. But because of a lack of women, she is able to keep her options open and flirt with all three, being very critical on trivial matters. Keep in mind that this is a novel, and it is very possible that some of these characters and their personalities could have been altered to make the story more dramatic. Still, the author has been in the tech industry and thus the story should merit some degree of accuracy.
The tech boom has fostered a transcendence in old standards, changing the work culture to a much more inviting one and contributing to a different dating scene in which women are severely limited and thus high valued (see another example of such a scenario).
Although few in number, women introduce skills that many men in the tech industry are lacking. The character of Virginia shows that women are indeed qualified in understanding all of the coding jargon of male programmers. Because the values of hiring women in the tech industry are becoming apparent, more women should be motivated to challenge the standards of tech industry employment. And if men want to meet the increasingly high standards of women, they should stop hiding behind those computer screens, be confident and well-mannered, and know how to communicate. If they really want to ensure success and outcompete others, maybe they should hit the gym and develop those oh-so-sexy thighs.