The Uphill Battle of Women in Tech

Being a woman in tech can be downright frustrating.

How? Well, to start off, it’s 2016 already and that wage gap problem is still lingering. In fact, one study has even shown that companies who state all raises and promotions are entirely performance-based are actually more likely to give its female employees smaller bonuses- even when their performance reviews are just as good as the men’s. Women also have to deal with sexual harassment on a regular basis. As one feminist in tech describes, she has been”asked about [her] relationships at interviews,” “groped at public events,” and even called a “cunt.”

The women’s frustration isn’t just from their experiences at work, but from their romantic lives, too. For women in tech, the majority of potential romantic partners are tech guys, and that’s not good news, to say the least. The stereotypical tech guy wears flip flops to a first date and asks blunt questions like “So, are you really a C cup?” before the date even begins. You might be thinking this is just a stereotype and no guy would act like that in real life, but women in tech would beg to differ.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist, thinks his theories can explain the science behind all this. For example, men are hardwired to be more risk-taking and single-mindedly devoted to earning money than women are, since wealth is needed to supply offspring with ample resources to survive and thus increase reproductive success. These characteristics of men make them more likely to put themselves out there and negotiate (or even demand!) a higher salary. And the sexual harassment isn’t inequality at all- it’s actually just the opposite, because before women even entered the workforce, men had been hostile to each other to survive competitive situations. So what women perceive as sexual harassment is just men treating the women as he would treat anyone else at work. Finally, Kanazawa links the tech guys’ socially awkward behavior to their “type S brains,” which makes them better at logical reasoning (or programming, to be more specific) than at emphasizing with others (or knowing what to wear and say on the first date without creeping anyone out.)

But all the women out there shouldn’t be discouraged from pursuing tech jobs just yet, because surprisingly, evolutionary psychology also supports the pros of having women in the tech industry. While many traditional tech guys have extreme type S brains, women tend to have a better balance of the type S brain and what Kanazawa calls the “type E brain,” which gives them good social skills and the ability to empathize with others well. And type E brains are in high demand for their one-of-a-kind leadership and management style. Kim Malone Scott, one successful woman in tech, describes her experiences as a middle manager in Google’s sales department in her novel, Virtual Love. She was loved by everyone for her caring personality and ability to put herself in the shoes of every single one of her co-workers. For not one moment did Scott ever let her gender get in the way of her having an amazing experience at Google and excelling in her job.

Clearly, the tech industry can’t afford to lose any more incredible women like Scott. Evolutionary psychology theories are no excuse to failing to change what makes women uncomfortable at work. As one social psychologist says, “How can systems like Google and Facebook be fully informed about what we want and need when there’s little to no input from 52% of the world’s population?”

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