“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing…”
Steve Jobs spoke these words in 2011 at the iPad 2 event. His appearance was unexpected and followed an indefinite extended medical leave of absence. His presentation, while lacking his trademark elaborate flourish, resonated with raw honesty. His intention, when speaking these words, seemed to be to illustrate the importance of the existence of varied inputs and expertise in creating the technology of both our present and future; that a critical understanding of human behavior, communication, and, to a greater extent, society as a whole, is necessary in order to create technology that creates a lasting impact.
This is a fairly simple concept, and one that is not easily argued. Understanding those you are creating technology for is just as integral as the actual creation of said technology. Otherwise you have no market. However, it is also a concept that is quickly abandoned when the topic of “women in technology” is presented.
Susan Wojcicki, current CEO of YouTube and former senior vice president of advertising and commerce at Google, recently penned an article titled “Susan Wojcicki: A ‘Sputnik’ moment for women in technology.” My assumptions, I am embarrassed to admit, were that Wojcicki was going to dub herself our era’s Sputnik, or perhaps even point to the gradually climbing number of young women pursuing technology related degrees. This was not the case.
The article opened with Wojcicki bravely revealing that, at age 10, her daughter had declared that she hated computers. “As someone who has spent her career helping build one of the largest tech companies in the world, I was in shock,” Wojcicki admitted. “Suddenly an issue I faced repeatedly at work — the lack of women in tech — hit squarely at home.”
This sentence plainly illustrates Wojcicki’s expectation, be it conscious or subconscious, of her daughter to one day be one of those women that technology is so obviously lacking. It also highlights her tunnel vision belief that technology is computers, and that the only way to acquire eligibility for a job with a tech company is through a deep and unwavering love of computers. While the rest of the article, which expresses a desire to see computer science classes as part of a standard educational curriculum, is not disagreeable, it is her motivation for such — specifically pushing young girls towards computer science and technology — that is.
The NCES 2013 Digest of Education Statistics, which includes information on the gender breakdown for top majors from 1970-2012, reveals that women received an estimated 85% of Health degrees, 82% of Public Administration (social work, public policy, etc) related degrees, 79% of Education degrees, and 77% of Psychology degrees. The numbers also show that an estimated 40-45% of the degrees in Math, Statistics, and Physical Sciences were conferred to women, along with 58% of the Biology degrees in 2012, effectively confirming a rising interest among young women in STEM fields as a whole.
There is a growing consensus that education, as a whole, should shift towards the teaching of specific technical skills. This mindset dismisses the value that subjects like language, philosophy, art, communications, and, not least of all, education, bring to innovation and progress. These areas also happen to be predominantly occupied by women.
Breitbart’s own Milo Yiannopoulos recently highlighted a number of facts often omitted in the “women in tech” discussion, which includes the fact that women pursuing careers in technology often see preferential treatment during the hiring process over their male counterparts, largely due to quotas and affirmative action in the name of diversity. Being a woman, in general, is an immense advantage, and yet few women are pursuing these fields.
The idea that an extremely specific technology degree is needed in order to contribute to the advancement of our society is arguably the gravest error in thinking we as a people have ever made. The second gravest is not truly appreciating those who have stepped into the roles of technological innovation, instead telling them that their worth is intrinsically tied to their gender.
If young girls, on average, find themselves naturally shifting away from computers, why do we, as a people, feel a collective need to fight that? We certainly wouldn’t fight many other harmless natural inclinations.
For Wojcicki, it was worth fighting. She proudly enrolled her daughter in an all-girls coding camp, which effectively reconditioned the child and helped her embrace her computer overlords, who apparently hold the one and only key to a successful life. Thank goodness we are finding ways to teach young girls that their passions must align with what is expected of them by others. We wouldn’t want them thinking that no means no, right?
For better or worse, technology is the “know your place” of our generation. Women are no longer expected to be in the kitchen by men, but rather are expected to be in front of a computer by other women. Women in tech, given the current climate of the discussion, are the single greatest threat to women in tech.