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Men vs. women: Seated at the tech table

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 8:10am
AllVoices

Remember Larry Summers, the one-time aspirant for the Fed’s top job, former Treasury secretary, ex- president of Harvard, and generally opinionated busybody, and his remarks on women and science?

Folks like him have got their ultimate comeuppance with recent news that the gender gap in tech industry salaries has almost disappeared, and the glass ceilings that existed in this most technical of domains is increasingly being shattered by outstanding female role models.

Sexism over salaries

Studies last year by IT jobs website Dice and more recently by the American Association of University Women show that men and women are being paid almost at the same levels in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry.

While the average male salary is still higher than that of women, when data are examined for specific job roles, these variances disappear.

It was Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg who highlighted the issue of wage disparity in her best-selling book “Lean In” claiming that for every dollar a man earned in Silicon Valley, a woman earned 77 cents.

Ironically, it’s been her superstar success along with that of Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, who has got people cheering at the sideline for more women in tech, though the Internet still believes Meyer could have done a better job of negotiating her own salary.

Revenge of the nerds: Female edition

Ultimately job choices reflect educational qualifications, and that’s where Summers initially got himself into trouble with his remarks. While it is true that women historically had a lower preference for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects, that’s no reason to allow prejudices to flourish today.

At the highly pedigreed MIT, the 2013 class undertaking a Bachelor of Science degree has jumped to 45 percent women from 5 percent in 1966. More women than men signed up for computer science at Berkeley last year as well. Sure, the women at the pointy end of spear are still in a minority in the tech industry but it will be interesting to see what the stats show four to five years from now.

If anything, women may have the biggest surprise up their sleeves ­– studies on entrepreneurship and women have thrown up staggering results of the progress women have made as job creators from the Valley to the Middle East.

The tech industry has long worshiped entrepreneurship, it’s time it got ready for a few high priestesses.

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