Is working in the tech field all about manipulating wires and coding in HTML? And if so, is there any reason to be surprised that women are still a minority in the industry? British tech executive Jane Tappuni wrote a smart blog post for the Guardian in which she argues that technology has a perception problem. Tech has a reputation as a left-brain field, but in reality it’s the perfect sector for creative, right-brain problem-solvers — including many women who would never think of themselves as tech-y.
Tappuni worked in book publishing for a dozen years before entering the tech field. After starting a mobile marketing company, she now works in business development for a tech company called Publishing Technology. “The starkest contrast between technology and publishing, and by a county mile I might add, is the number of women working in the industry,” she writes. “In the five years I spent running the mobile company I only came across one other woman doing something similar to me.”
There’s nothing inherently male about the technology sector, Tappuni writes. “Contrary to common perception, it isn’t actually the preserve of the geeks,” she argues. “It’s a vibrant, innovative, creative sector that is booming.” Technology goes way beyond tinkering with computers. It can involve creativity, problem-solving, and the kind of thinking “needed to help transition this creative industry from a print-based model to a media, online, digital and print industry.” But despite this, the number of women IT graduates in the UK entering the field has fallen almost by half in the last decade.
Tech may be a fascinating, fluid field. But it has a perception problem. “One could argue that men, tending to make better use of the logical left side of their brains, would be naturally more suited to a career in IT,” Tuppuni writes. “But that would be the IT of 10 years ago, when a job in the IT sector meant fixing people’s computers.” She goes on:
Technology has transitioned at an astonishing rate during the past decade, and software and services have become fundamental to many industries. Nowadays, one of the key qualities of a good technologist is creativity, idea-generation, multitasking, problem-solving and a general keenness to think of new ways of doing things. Are these not attributes that make women ideal candidates for jobs in technology?
Plenty of people would dispute her premise, of course. Even if women are currently more “right-brained” than men, that could be due to cultural conditioning, which deserves to be addressed, too. But in the meantime, Tappuni’s conclusion is important: These days, working in tech means much more than fiddling with servers and software.