From an early age, women are discouraged from pursuing studies in science and technology. Data published by the UN Women of the year 2018 indicate that only 17% of programmers in the world are female. Moreover, on the African continent the challenges are even greater since the internet penetration has the lowest rates of the world and the widest digital gender gap —with a mere 18.6 percent of women using the Internet, versus 24.9 per cent of men (ITU, 2017).
Almost 14 % of women between the age of 18 and 24 started coding when they were under 16 years old.
In general, women in the tech industry earn less than their male colleagues. According to Adeva IT, the median man in Silicon Valley earns 61% more than the median woman. TechCrunch also reports that 63% of the time, men are given higher salary offers than women, despite being in the same job at the same company.
One-third of women older than 35 are still in junior positions.
Another challenge faced by women in technology is that they are more likely to be perceived as incompetent. In a study conducted on GitHub users, it was found that code written by female coders was accepted 78% of the time. This was 4% more than the acceptance rate of code from male coders. However, this was only true provided the gender of the coder was unknown. This prejudice ultimately affects women jobs positions since they are more likely to be pushed to non-technical roles
Facing sexism in the workplace and unfriendliness to family planning and pregnancy almost half of the tech educated women with children leave their job. This will largely affect women interested in technology when it comes to making a choice whether to start a job in this industry or not. For instance, the top position for women in tech is “Project Manager,” whereas the top position for men in tech is “Software Engineer.” This bias is based off the stereotype that women are not good in technical roles.
In Africa, besides all these challenges above, the cultural and family expectations play a big role on women. A 19-year-old participant of Coding Camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Colleen Chibanda, from Harare, Zimbabwe explained: “Most of the time, young girls in ICT get married and their potential is swept under the carpet because they now have different responsibilities.”. Another participant cleared that girls face discrimination in the tech sector, because computer science has always been a course for boys, not girls.
In short it is possible to see how women still suffer from prejudice regarding their role in society. Although slow, it is possible to see advances regarding women within technology. Diversity is still a challenge, but every day it becomes more important to challenge the status quo.